Pullbox Reviews: Bloodshot #4 – A bullet train full of monsters & all the raw meat you can handle…

“The Long Shot” starts here!

All aboard as Bloodshot faces off against ghoulish monsters on a bullet train to the heart of darkness!

High-speed thrills and blood-curdling chills lurk behind every turn in 2019’s best new action series!

Having just been liberated from the custody of a covert team belonging to an outfit called Blackbar, Bloodshot is now faced with a mystery: Who are The Burned? Claiming to have rescued him from his captors, the man calling himself Agent Nix assures him that they’re not out to kill him, nor do they seek to control him. In fact, if Agent Nix is to be believed, The Burned share common cause with Bloodshot and seek only to ally with him and to assist him as he goes about his business.

So, again… who are The Burned?

When a government decides that the services of its covert operatives are no longer required, they are thrown to the wind. Their country denies any involvement in their activities, turns its back on them, and leaves them to make their own way in the world. No support, no defense or safe harbor outside of what they can muster on their own. The Burned are nothing less than an alliance of disavowed spies from all over the world, left to their own devices and united by their common goals. While those objectives remain shrouded in mystery, their immediate aim is to gain Bloodshot’s aid in a rescue operation. The target: a high speed train transporting the subjects of involuntary genetic experimentation, perpetrated by the People’s Liberation Army in China.

With Bloodshot set to make the jump from comicbook character to Hollywood action hero (here’s the trailer, in case you missed it), there’s no better time than now to get onboard. Taking a step away from the angst-ridden tone of previous storylines, Valiant has brought Tim Seeley in to give their nanite infused killing machine a spin that involves more explosive action and less broody voice over. Rather than focusing on his origins as the unwitting agent of the covert Project Rising Spirit, Seeley’s run is set to give Bloodshot a new direction. He’s not running away from his enemies… he’s taking the fight straight to them.

Man, that even sounds like a killer action movie tagline.

Four issues into his run, and Seeley seems determined to keep things moving, only slowing down periodically to catch a breath but never leaving things static for long. The first three issue arc saw Bloodshot as we’ve always known him, on his own against a (presumably) government sanctioned squad hell bent on (presumably) eliminating him and the threat posed by his very existence. Now Seeley gives us another look, one in which Mr. Shot has to decide whether or not to trust Agent Nix and The Burned. If they are forthright in their stated aims (um… hello? SPIES!), it could be a very good day for our nigh-unstoppable super soldier. If, however, Seeley is pulling a rope-a-dope on us all (gasp!), things could get interesting for all involved.

Keeping up with the story laid out by Seeley, and giving form to his words, the team of Brett Booth (pencils), Adelso Corona (inks), and Andrew Dalhouse (colors) have their work cut out for them. So far, Booth’s layouts seem determined to break some kind of record, and the man apparently hates wasted space with a deep and fiery passion. Every bit of available real estate on his pages has something going on, even where he’s setting up feelings of isolation and inevitable doom for a character. There are details everywhere. Booth’s style is actually reminiscent of the work being done by Image in the 90’s, on titles such as Cyberforce or WildC.A.T.s, and it’s actually a great aesthetic given the story’s action-heavy tone. This sets a pretty high bar for Corona & Dalhouse, whose own work manages to flesh out Booth’s work without making it all seem cluttered. Corona has solidified the line work, bringing everything we need to see to the fore, and Dalhouse’s colors give everything weight.

Some honorable mention and three or four emphatic high-fives go out to Dave Sharpe, whose work on the lettering for this title is pretty much outstanding. Not only does he give a “creepy horror movie whisper” to the Burned agents in their distinctive masks, but he also handles a slew of sound effects with style and grace. From the “PKOW PKOW PKOW” of semi-automatic gunfire, to the unearthly growls of the weaponized genetic experiments unleashed, Sharpe exemplifies what I mean when I say that a good letterer can make or break a comic (hint: this book ain’t broken).

Tim Seeley has already left his mark in the comicbook industry with his spin on the horror slasher genre in Hack/Slash. Now he’s leading the charge to bring Bloodshot into a new era of cinematic action. Old readers might like the break from the title’s heavy conspiracy-laden beginnings, while new readers may look to jump aboard the Diesel (as in Vin) fueled wagon as it’s getting started. Wherever you are in that equation, take a deep breath before you start reading… maybe stretch or warm up a bit… but whatever you do, don’t look away. Once this book starts moving, it moves fast and it doesn’t stop.

Final Score: 9

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