THIS is what I’m talking about right here. Couple this with how much I enjoyed IMAGE’s Island and I’m having a damn good comics week.
I LOVED VALIANT’s Legends of the Geomancer #1 and to a lesser extent enjoyed Book of Death #1 but I wasn’t all in on the execution and presentation for the latter as I was the concept for an event level comic, and The Fall of Bloodshot offers up more of everything what I liked and was just more clean of a book overall and stands as my favorite issue of Bloodshot perhaps ever, which oddly is something I’ve had quite the opposite reaction to in that I’ve thought the execution of his series, Bloodshot Reborn, has been terrific but in premise it wasn’t really my personal preference.
I’m a big fan of Jeff Lemire though so I know he has it in him to turn on a dime. This is that Descender guy.
The Fall of Bloodshot was all of what I found compelling in the good parts of Book of Death #1, namely the actual telling of the Book of Death. None of what I felt were the weaknesses were present because, as one would assume from the title, this The Fall of Bloodshot is exactly what it states, a potential end of the road on the journey that started showing promise to me in the Lemire and Guice Free Comic Book Day Bloodshot story.
Before the end however we get the best type of VALIANT storytelling though. Flashes of the future with Bloodshot retelling beats from what is a long personal history. A history that’s nothing near as grounded and noirish as we see in Bloodshot Reborn and is all that actual good shit that I want to read, as if we took all the shards of a Rai #0 and created with them whole issues for each of them. Lemire and Braithwaite unveil epic Bloodshot. Dino hunting, barbarian warlord space king, Eskimo spearmen, pirate Bloodshot, robot wars, and even more he doesn’t tell. It looks like every great genre I want to read Bloodshot in, as he seems to stand in for former VALIANT roles of robot fighter and dinosaur hunter, while still having the time to get in some quality pirating with Armstrong for beer. This is everything. VALIANT at its best. All of these are stories I want more of.
I’m not sure what to make of lil Ray at the end excluding that he’s the antithesis of Bloodsquirt. Ray is Ray. He has a friend. He’s come full circle. His end is witnessed. Perhaps it represented his mind state or maybe it was even the nanites letting him pass with comfort. What Little Ray says is telling. He doesn’t say he doesn’t have anywhere else to be. Instead, he states “Don’t got nowhere left to go”. He leaves what looks to be an advanced rebuilt humanity. He has survived countless battles and wars and I wonder if his thoughts about his nanites being outdated now also means he and they are no longer needed. Did he walk far enough to find peace?
Speaking of peace, I haven’t reviewed Bloodshot Reborn #4 because I just have other VALIANT that interested me more (though the art is so much better now, something left to the imagination now), but the one intriguing thing that occurred in that issue, also written by Lemire, is that the character named Magic is introduced and Bloodshot namechecks her in The Fall of Bloodshot, where he reflects on her as representative of a time of peace in his very long life. Might be another important VALIANT character introduction and I wonder if she’s the blonde we see in splash in Book of Death #1 featuring several unknown characters.
This is VALIANT that I love, and my only fear when reading The Fall of Bloodshot, The Book of Death, and perhaps VALIANT in general is this thought that what’s to come or what could be is always more preferable than what is. This idea that all these good ideas and stories I want to see are always coming or are just footnotes never to be expanded on, while I’m left to follow some crime/cop show. Even Lemire starts off the reflection with:
Those were the good years…
… Years of Adventure
This is the Bloodshot and VALIANT I want to read.
The old VALIANT fan in me is still processing the fate of the fabled Blood of Heroes. Dying in an alley, outdated and failing. But then I think about what I just read. Ray lived and Ray got to die in a way he didn’t live. In peace. I also think about the title of a book by Matthew Stover: Heroes Die.
As it is, the only thing that could have made this better was if Bloodshot was Afro Bloodshot. Hat tip to Lemire and Braithwaite, one of the best single comics of the year.