Wednesday, December 31, 2014
not all have humour, plots are either too immediate real-time or too dark for comedy to =
From what I've found out, Issue #19 would have been another one guest-starring soap star Walt Willey! He notices mysterious paranormal goings-on at a ranch of his, and calls on the Mirages to help
with ripe potential for future stories, had they ever come about.
The villains in Second Life are pretty great, and quite varied, although the dialogue of two particular ones do meld together a bit too much for my liking. All in all, this series has a nice and distinctive rogues gallery, from the utterly looney-tunes madman Dr. Eclipse, the unhinged ectoplasmic stalker Otherman, and the malevolent Deathsmith and his army of monsters crafted from warped and twisted human flesh. And then there's Master Darque, but I find him to be an utterly boring and annoying character.]
Here we are, at the final issues of The Second Life of Doctor Mirage, a series that ended far too soon...
Ghostly paranormal investigators Hwen and Carmen Mirage are handed a case by police lieutenant Thomas Morgan, who tells them of an unexplainable mass disappearance on a subway train. Later that night, when the couple are at a dinner function at a museum with Carmen's hostile parents, the villainous Deathsmith attacks. Responsible for the subway horror, the Deathsmith wants to amass as much necromantic energy as he can, and his sights are instantly turned to Hwen and Carmen, who are soaked in the stuff. Hwen finds that the necromancer is somehow blocking his powers, and now unable to transform into his powerful intangible state, Hwen and Carmen have to rely solely on their wits to defeat the Deathsmith and his legion of monstrous creations...
This is a very entertaining story of The Second Life of Doctor Mirage! It is only a two-issue long fight scene with an issue of setup, but it's well-handled because the locations change and the story isn't just in a single place, the villain and his powers are very interesting, and the subplot elsewhere with Rico helps make the story feel bigger. The plot isn't perfect though, which I'll get into when I discuss the villain.
Just as with last issue, there's narration here too, and like last issue, it's effective with its placement, and doesn't supplant Hwen's actual dialogue.
Aside from the issues I have with the villain, the only problem I have with this story is through no fault its own. The ending is a rather downbeat cliffhanger, which'd be fine, if this wasn't the last issue.
The characters this story are very good! We've got the proactive and highly resourceful leads, who have to fight a powerful necromancer without the aid of Hwen's reliable powers. They don't really get a whole lot of development to them though, given the real-time immediacy to the plot, but they do at least get some character, thankfully, in regards to their feelings towards Carmen's parents.
Then there's Carmen's parents, who are a lot less hospitable towards Hwen than his own caring mother. They're well-written, are a good addition to the story, and they don't go the cliched route of hating Hwen, then getting attacked by the story's villain and saved by their son-in-law, leading them to have a newfound respect for him. They do have a newfound like and respect for Hwen come the story's end, but it comes more naturally, and they never come into contact with any danger to force a sudden change out of them.
Even Rico gets the beginnings of some intriguing character! He's just comic relief, yet still worthy of having an actually interesting and dramatic backstory, with ripe potential for future stories, had they ever come about.
While the Deathsmith's name is a bit laughable, he's a decently written, intimidating villain, with some dark deeds under his belt, and very nifty body-horror elements to his powers. Unfortunately, his personality bears a slight resemblance to recurring Valiant villain Dr. Eclipse. They're both grinning necromantic maniacs who psychotically crack wise, but their powers and physical make-up are very different, which helps set them apart. Also annoying is Deathsmith's total lack of backstory, or motivation. He just wants to kill people because he does. At least he gets some amusing dialogue-"You have such lovely eyes! Mind if I keep 'em?"
The art in these issues is very good for the most part, but there are a couple of problems. The first is that Lieutenant Morgan's hair is completely grey in Issue #16, but in the following ones, it's back to being brown, as it should have been from the get go! Another is that some characters, Rico in particular, look pretty ridiculously bug-eyed in a couple of scenes. At the end, there's an effective two-page spread, which provides a fitting and flashy end to a neat climax, and most importantly, it's not confusing, nor does it waste a single bit of space for the rest of the issue's events!
The covers to these issues are pretty good, and nicely dynamic!
This is a very entertaining storyline, and as a three-parter with a grand showdown of a climax, it's in a way, fitting at being the impromptu finale it is, although that status is undercut a bit by the cliffhanger...
An old collegiate acquaintance of ghostly paranormal investigator Hwen Mirage calls on him for help in researching Thornton Manor, a house in Providence, Rhode Island with a history of hauntings. Worse still, the house's current occupants-a family-have disappeared without a trace. Hwen and his wife Carmen investigate the manor, and soon come face to face with the house's violent spiritual manifestation, and have to figure out how to take it down before it can drain Hwen's necromantic lifeforce...
This story is by far the most horrific of The Second Life of Dr. Mirage. The series has always been a lightearted supernatural comedy, and while things have gotten dark, it's never gone into outright horror territory. That changes with these issues, which are a lot more ghoulish than the rest of the series.
Due to the more darker tone of this story, there's a lot less humour than other issues, which is fine. This series has always meshed genres well, and they never get in the way of each-other, which can be the undoing of many comedy-horrors.
This is a very well-written story, with nice dramatic moments, ghoulish ones, and a great climax! For the first time in this series, we get narration boxes here, and they're actually decent, unlike most Valiant comics. Hwen's inner monologue doesn't supplant his dialogue, which is the problem most Valiant comics have with narration. They break the 'show, don't tell rule', and oftentimes, the leads would get only a couple of lines of real dialogue per issue, with the vast majority of their 'dialogue' being narration. Second Life completely bucks this problem, showing just how good its writing is.
Hwen Mirage is a great character here. He's a resourceful, likeable lead, and his actions are very compassionate and heroic! As for Carmen, she's just as important, and gets her dramatic moments too.
The remaining characters here are good. Rico only appears briefly at the very start, while Mama Fong isn't present. The supporting leads, Professor Mabry, and Chris, and likeable enough leads, and Mabry's backstory gives him a degree of character.
The art in these issues is great! It's a little off in a couple of spots, but nothing major. Although the two saliva-expression moments when characters are hurt are a bit annoying, especially when it comes to Hwen, who, as a ghost, doesn't have saliva!
The covers are middling. Issue #14's is good, but #15's it pretty meh. Not only is it a non-sequitur, but it shows too little, which is a problem exacerbated by the blank white background, which looks like a Microsoft Word whiteout mistake.
This is a very good Second Life of Doctor Mirage story, and it's a shame that it's the penultimate one in the series. Only one more...
Sunday, November 30, 2014
The original Bloodshot series from Valiant Comics is extremely boring to me. It's incredibly mediocre, and the whole thing just screams of wasted potential. The Acclaim remake on the other hand improves on every aspect of its predecessor.
Bloodshot is the story of a man brought back to life by a sinister organization known as the D.O.A., seemingly to be made into a superweapon. He manages to escape, knowing that he's supposedly named Raymond Garrison, but he doesn't believe it. He's drawn to the name Angelo Mortalli, and goes on a search for the truth of his identity, in the process finding nasty truths, and battling superpowered opponents...
First of all, this is a very good remake! Nevermind that it's good while the original series sucks. This is a fine remake as it changes enough to be different, but keeps enough to still be the same thing.
Bloodshot isn't just regular action fare, but is also a really bizarre series! Its dialogue is either unintentionally hilariously pretentious, or deliberately so. I'm willing to bet it's the latter, as this series knows to poke fun at itself and its writing style at times. This series has humour here and there, and far from being out of place, it adds to the surreal tone.
This series' themes of soul, identity, meaning to life, science and supernatural, and totalitarianism are pretty fascinating, and the series is very literate, especially in how it ends each issue with a quote pertaining to each story's events. They're all great quotes, but the best is by far the last one, which caps off the series' fantastic ending perfectly!
The titular character is very well-written. His superpower set is interesting, while his attitude is kinda darkly snarky, and his journey for soul and identity adds depth. Best of all, unlike most other anti-heroes of the '90's, Bloodshot is not cliched, and not annoying! YES! Not once does he complain how 'Murderers get a slap on the wrist in court while good men die', and he never says 'Take back the night'! Both phrases are among the most repeated ones in the '90's, and are thusly infuriating to read, to the point where they're mostly only used nowadays in parody.
Simon Oreck is a very good villain! While we unfortunately don't find out his true motivations until the last issue, he's still a well-written villain althroughout. His dialogue could make him come across as a know-it-all if the writing in this series wasn't as good as it is, but thankfully it instead paints a devious and cunning villain! As for how he looks, it's deliberately grotesque, given he's as big as Mr. Creosote from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, but this actually plays into the story, and isn't there for laughs.
Bloodshot features quite a few different characters from Acclaim's shared universe in cameos here and there, but the proper crossovers it has are with XO Man-O-War, and Shadowman. Both of these stories are complimentary to the respective characters, and they feel like they actually have a reason to play a part in the story, rather than just show up because Editorial wants a crossover.
Unfortunately, the more minor characters are wasted. The Chainsaw hit squad are an interesting bunch, but they're all killed in their respective issue. And then there's Agent Sinclair, who has some scenes that really give him character, but never lead to anything.
The art in this series is a mixed bag. Sometimes it looks cluttered and confusing, other times it's better. There are also chapter headings, which are ok, but can get a bit confusing when the stories are non-linear, and we get Chapter Three before One. Still, when that confusion wears off, the headings actually help you more easily realize the non-linearity going on.
Overall, only one Issue (#9) of this series is bad. The rest is a great read, and the most surreal action odyssey this side of Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning!...
Superhuman man Bloodshot is dead, by his own hand. However, while he wanted his journey to be over, as he saw his way of ending things as a means of foiling his adversaries, the people he meets in the afterlife tell him that nothing is over for him. Bloodshot returns to life, newly determined to end the threat of the malevolent D.O.A. once and for all...
The final issue of Acclaim's incarnation of Bloodshot, Issue #16 wraps things up perfectly. It provides a fantastic conclusion that ends this epic journey, providing a definite conclusion, yet the character's future is ripe for more stories.
The dialogue in this issue is great! While there's much of the story's arc concerning the title character that's unexplored, it doesn't feel like it's in a bad way, but rather intriguing. I especially like when Bloodshot meets Raymond Garrison in Deadside. His words to Bloodshot are cryptic, yet say so much, and are actually of worth, as opposed to just being mysterious for mystery's sake.
Some of Bloodshot's finest moments are in this issue, and he's a well-written anti-hero, with a definite arc. While it's not fully explained, there's enough to be a good character journey.
In previous issues, Simon Oreck has been a good villain, but we've never really known his motivations. Here, we learn them, and the add greatly to his character. He's pretty multi-faceted, albeit a tad underused, and he's definitely a well-written antagonist for this series.
The art here is very good, while the cover is ok, but a bit confusing.
Bloodshot Issue #16 is a great finale, and ends the series perfectly!...
Following the end of his journey retracing the steps of his past self, undead supersoldier Bloodshot returns to the headquarters of the D.O.A., the sinister organization that gave him life after death. There he finds them attempting to recreate the Project Lazarus experiment with a clone, who's been told that his agonizing incomplete nature was caused by Bloodshot...
This is an entertaining issue of Bloodshot, which brings things to the endgame. It's got good dialogue, good writing, and there's some neat dark humour.
Now onto the problems with this issue...
On the cover is a stylised name change-up-Bloodbath. It sure is a bloodbath alright...But not on the side you'd think! It's Bloodshot who easily takes down his imperfect clone, not the other way around. This is pretty bad writing. If this issue were double-sized, it'd be better able to flesh out its story and characters, but as it stands, nothing here poses a challenge for Bloodshot.
The clone's character is way too unexplored, and it's killed far too soon. As for the returning Eric Stroheim, he too is dispatched far to quickly and easily.
There's a cameo from what I think is another Acclaim character, but I'm not sure who. Maybe Eternal Warriors.
The art here is mostly decent. The clone is grotesquely overmuscled, but there's an actual reason for it, rather than it just being terrible Liefieldian artwork. As for why it looks so monstrous, that's never explained. If it was for a scare factor, then it fails, considering how easily killed the clone is.
Also, the final panel makes the same mistake as the similar-looking cover to Issue #9-Bloodshot's meant to be pointing his gun to his head, but it looks more like it's resting against his head. This kinda ruins the moment.
The cover isn't bad, but it's only showing a face, so it does come across as wasteful.
This is a problematic penultimate issue of Bloodshot, but it's still not bad by any means...
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Undead supersoldier Bloodshot is on the last leg of his journey of identity, which has led him to a secret underground Vatican library. Full of thousands of books, only one is of any importance to Bloodshot-A mysterious 'book of creation'...
This issue of Bloodshot is a mixed bag. One one hand, the writing is decent, and there are good scenes, but on the other hand, the plot is pretty underwritten. It's very confusing and unexplained what this book of creation even is, and why the D.O.A. originally wanted it.
Unfortunately, the ending is also a mess! Bloodshot bumps into Acclaim character Alexandre Darque, who espouses cryptically about stuff, then a giant star man is looming over Rome as Darque talks, then nothing is ever made of this again next issue! Huh?!
I have no idea if the giant Solar (as in Man of the Atom) at the end is metaphorical of something, or if this is supposed to be a lead-in to the Solar: Hell on Earth miniseries, or both. Either way, this is a baffling ending that'll probably leave you cold, despite the neat twisted humour, and if it was meant to be a lead-in, then it should have said so in a caption box, rather than just assume the reader would automatically know of the Solar event comic.
A highlight of this issue is a two-page spread that shows characters from the original Valiant universe side by side with their Acclaim counterparts. It looks great, for the most part, and while it's confusing as hell what's going on with this Vatican book Bloodshot's reading, it gets across a nice sense of nostalgia and legacy.
There's not a whole lot of pretentious Bloodshot speak, but what there is is amusing. "Ever-rising tide of obfuscating verbiage; the plural deafening itself to the singular. Noise frozen in ink."
The art here is good. The two-page spread is drawn very well, minus a couple of problems. 1, the Acclaim Gilad looks oddly obese, and 2, the Acclaim Magnus' arm musculature looks odd.
The cover is pretty good! It's stylish, and has many facets all over to look at.
This is a confusing issue of Bloodshot, but it's not worthless filler, and it does get across important arc details, so I still recommend it...
Superpowered undead man Bloodshot is on one of the final legs of his journey of identity. He's in Russia, at the site of a secret project so dangerous, everyone involved in mapping and charting its location was liquidated, and the test facility is in the middle of a vast fenced off area 100 kilometres wide, with five nukes pointed straight at it from a satellite, prepared to fire at a moments notice. Whatever it is that necessitated such safeguards drove Bloodshot's former self Raymond Garrison mad for half a year, and he's intent on finding out the truth behind this encounter...
Bloodshot Issue #13's story is by far the most strange of this series, but not without good reason. The story here is rather fascinating, with its ideas of disastrous reality-breaking psychotronic experiments, and their effects on land, the human mind, and the abandoned test subjects indirectly responsible for all the chaos.
Interesting this story indeed is, but its concepts are sadly too unexplored for its own good. The psychotropic weirdness just suddenly stops, Bloodshot talks to the test subject at the heart of the warped facility for a couple of pages, The End. If the issue was double-sized, then I think it would've been able to flesh out its story more. Still, A for effort!
The non-linear flavour to the narrative makes things a bit confusing, as does the rapid onset craziness. One second, things are fine, the next, Bloodshot's in a giant D.O.A. shredder bin that may or may not actually exist. A bit of segue would've been good.
This isn't much of a character issue at all, more focusing on events. Bloodshot doesn't have a whole lot of character here, but we do get a sense of how computer-like his mind is, especially when the psychotronic stuff affects him like a computer virus. As for the test subject, what she has to say to Bloodshot is quite interesting in regards to what he is, though the story then ends too soon for her.
After a few issues without that distinctive hilariously pretentious Bloodshot speak, we get it in spades here, even to the point of parody! It's nice that this series knows enough to poke fun at itself, yet still take everything seriously. It also helps that it does have small doses of humour here and there. Not only does it not feel out of place, but it adds immensely to the absolutely bizarre tone this series has!
"Fabric of space-time unraveled; tangled snarls of Gordian knots and strange loops. Causality violated by the double murder of Cause and Effect. The seconds twitch by fitfully, broken-sprocketed movie footage. Eternity's deck of cards shuffled at random. Uncertainty writ macrocosmic, unleashed from its sub-atomic quantum prison. Einstein wept." Cause was posthumously tried in the court of quantum space.
"This is the place where men briefly held reality in their hands, only to stumble and irreparably shatter part of it-Where time's arrow has been hammered into knots by a psychotic blacksmith, and all God has forbidden is mandatory." It's of course well-known that psychotic blacksmiths are among the universe's greatest dangers.
And then there's my personal favourite line from the whole series-"Secrets breed documentation. Lies kill trees!"
The art here is quite good! It's not cluttered, except in the craziness where it's meant to be. There's also some stylishly different artwork with the crazed test subject's mental form, which adds to the story's feel.
The cover is sorta lacking. The background with the ethereal face is nice, and Bloodshot's not terribly drawn, but there's not quite enough going on.
This is one of my favourite issues of Acclaim's Bloodshot, and is the epitome of what this series strives to be...
Resurrected superpowered corpse Bloodshot is continuing on the trail of his past self to find out what he is now that he's no longer Raymond Garrison. His search leads him to Vietnam, where a superhuman Triad assassin named Warcat is out for his blood. Their fight is short-lived, however, as Voodoo warrior Shadowman comes onto the scene and draws their attention to a a mechanical army of the living dead, and the unwilling trio have to fight for their lives...
This two-parter in Acclaim actioner Bloodshot has a well-written action story, which delves both into Bloodshot's past, and present.
The present story is ok, albeit a bit bare, and there's an interesting flashback story with Raymond Garrison, which, due to its content, is an important memory for Bloodshot to be looking answers from, rather than just being pointless padding.
Unfortunately the narration in these two issues can get a bit long winded
Bloodshot is a good main character with a a neat superpower set, and one that makes sense, and doesn't feel overpowering.
Fellow Acclaim character Shadowman is decent in this story. While he unfortunately doesn't actually interact with Bloodshot much until the end, he's not just here for name value. His presence is actually genuinely important to the story, in more ways than one! This story also serves as a neat backdoor pilot if you will. It may entice you to pick up his own series!...Of course I would recommend you not do that, because while it may be the second best Shadowman series there is, that doesn't mean it's all that good.
Warcat is a confusing character. Her entire involvement in this story is unexplained, and there's little to her besides being seductive, and possibly murderous. While her background is partially explained in a brief narration box, it's still a tad confusing why she's a human cat. Also, given that the cat getup isn't a costume, does that mean she's naked? Then 1, where are her proper boobs and 'netherregions', and 2, does that mean sex with her is bestiality?...No, I'm not saying that to be immature, Bloodshot actually bangs her. Geez, no wonder he put a bullet in his brain in the flashforward three issues ago!
D.O.A. Agent Sinclair is completely wasted, not because he's just not used much, but because his scene at the end of this story adds so much, yet the character did so little else in this story, and in future issues.
Like I said, The dialogue in these two issues is longwinded sometimes. "Re-read lines. Scan Between. Doubletalk. Governmentspeak. Stone cold Garrison don't give a damn denial. Look see what he wouldn't couldn't. Casualties of war could learn, did learn. They just had no interest in D.O.A.'s teachings. Their schooling: Lives ended too soon, and for no good reason. Their diploma: A shrieking passion for life fueled by rage and grief. Their gold star: Aluminium naptheate and aluminium palmate. Petroleum gel, aka napalm. Sticks to everything. Burns at 1562 degrees Fahrenheit. School's out for summer."
Other dialogue is amusing. "Shurikens. Useless weapons...Mycotoxins on the tip are another story. Ochratoxin-Ergotamine-Aflatoxin. Grain-based fungal derivatives. Central nervous system decimation. Liver and kidney failure. Nature's way of saying 'Die screaming!'."
The art in these issues is mostly pretty good, despite some odd angles to faces here and there. There's one moment of off continuity though, between the end of Issue #11 and the start of #12, involving Bloodshot's attire, and how he's suddenly wearing them, despite having no time in the zombie attack to put them on.
Another problem is the placement of some narration boxes that should have been before the final panel with Sinclair, but instead, you'll read his dialogue, then the boxes, effectively out of order because of this, which loses the effect a bit.
The cover to Issue #11 is great! It's got neat and dynamic character poses, and plenty going on! Issue #12's cover on the other hand, is not so good. The characters are posed decently, but the nothing background, which also happens to be bright pink does not add to anything.
This is a quite good two-parter of Bloodshot, even if its story doesn't tell quite enough...
Throughout its 53 issue run, Valiant action series Bloodshot had a couple of one-shots. I'll look at the other at another time, and today talk about the Bloodshot Yearbook....
Superhuman MI6 agent Bloodshot is on assignment in New York, supervising a drug deal sting operation. It goes south drastically, and all the feds involved are killed, while Bloodshot is injured in an explosion when pursuing the only surviving culprit. He's retrieved by Anna Trebecci, the wife of a notorious criminal. She's attracted to him, and the feeling is mutual. Things are complicated, however, when they start an affair, and her husband needs to be safely brought back to the country...
As a special yearbook (I'm not sure Valiant knows what that word means) issue, does it focus on something interesting, such as the sinister Iwatsu/Rising Spirit corporation (who gave Bloodshot his powers) plotting some dastardly plan in Japan? Could it be another epic tale for the ages? Nope, it's just some story about Bloodshot meeting a gal, mistaking the need to bang for love, and realizing she's a materialistic bitch and ditching her.
At 41 pages, this story completely squanders the added length with padding, and lead-up to an uninteresting climax and a story that just stops. It also takes nearly the length of a whole regular issue just for Bloodshot to watch a drug deal sting gone bad and resolve the situation!
The story is dull, poorly written in numerous ways, and its 'romance' has very poor chemistry. It also starts and ends too abruptly. Another problem is the 'makes it easy' aspect that the head assassin from the sting-gone-wrong just so happens to be one of Vincenzo Trebecci's would be assassins, otherwise the story would actually have to have Bloodshot doing something aside from lounge about a mansion cooking eggs!
Bloodshot is usually a boring character, and he is here, as well as an unlikeable murderous jerk, but he's also terribly cliched! His attitude is cliched in such a '90's way that it'd be funny if this wasn't meant to be taken seriously! It's a surprise he never says 'Take back the night'! He also never shuts up about his internal clock, despite such a body mechanic of his never having been mentioned before now. And of course, given his mastery over machines, he could just switch it off if it irks him that much.
There are many dumb things about his character this story, such as his feelings of dread concerning New York. He's defused a nuclear bomb with only seconds to spare, fallen 30,000 feet out of a plane, easily survived sniper rounds to the skull, yet a New York alley is enough to make his skin crawl? That's another annoying aspect to this issue-How much it trash talks NYC.
Another dumb moment is also at the start, when Bloodshot realizes that the sting a set-up, but does nothing to save the DEA agents, even though he's got a machine gun! And later on, he 'freezes' for a dumb reason and fails to save another life! And finally, it's idiotic that Bloodshot never calls his boss Neville for ages, claiming he needs to recuperate more. If you're doing one-legged push-ups, then you're healed enough to call your boss on the phone and tell him you're not dead, asshole!
The narration here is both over-abundant, poorly written, and pretentious. And not the fun knowing kind of pretentious like the Acclaim Bloodshot series. Worse is the really unsubtle ending imagery.
The art in this issue is dreadful! Everything looks filthy, scratchy, and gritty, while fight choreography and action posing is wretched! And then there's a typo where someone gasp's so hard, they do it with two P's!
There are other problems, such as the size of Bloodshot's uzi, which looks as big as a damn rifle! It's absurd! Then there's his outfit. His vest melds right onto his skin like it's greasepaint! The titular meathead repeatedly strikes stupid poses, which takes you out of the story a lot!
There's a poorly coloured scene where an assassin in a green shirt shoots a guy in a red one, but when the latter falls over dead, he's wearing an identical green shirt (right down to the folded sleeves), and the assassin's shirt is suddenly purple! What the hell?! Who got shot?!
Backgrounds are frequently negligible, ranging from black and purple negative zone spirals, to looking like the sun's exploded, or a magic eye. One even has Bloodshot striking a pose in front of the Scary Door from Futurama!
Finally, the cover. It sucks! All it is is Bloodshot standing in front of a nothing background, which bafflingly only goes through the middle, leaving both sides as black bordering. As for the art, it's not all that great. First of all, Bloodshot's waist compared to the rest of his body looks unnaturally thin compared to the rest of his body, like he's one of those people who go to bed each night wearing a corset, and second, his legs are both too long, and standing in an awkward position.
To finish, if you feel you could live your life without the mental image of Valiant hero Bloodshot cooking bacon in the buff and getting his man-tackle burnt, then you'll do good to avoid this boring one-shot...
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Like I've said before, Issue #14 of Valiant action series Bloodshot is the first and last fantastic issue in this entire mediocre series. However, that doesn't mean there's not some fun left, as evidenced by this issue!
A bunch of protection racket mobsters teach a circus a 'lesson' in overdue payment, gunning down several performers. They all die, save for one-Lenny Abruzzi. Driven to the edge, and already a tough guy, Lenny, aka 'Uzzi the Clown' recuperates, trains, then goes out onto the streets for some hunting. Uzzi is the toughest clown the criminals will soon wish they never crossed...
When I first found out that there was an issue where Bloodshoot is up against a joking clown vigilante, and in a story called Tears of a Clown no less, I figured this would be the point where the series jumps the shark. As it turns out, Uzzi the Clown is not only the best character to ever appear in Bloodshot, he's one of the best in all of Valiant too! He has a dramatic and well-defined arc, some hilariously ridiculous lines of dialogue, and he really brings some life to the otherwise stale proceedings.
Aside from Uzzi, this is a pretty dull story, of boring gangland nothing, with an end that's far too abrupt. Thankfully, while it seems like Uzzi dies at the end (in a really rushed manner), he comes back for a two-parter a few issues down the line.
Bloodshot is pretty dull here, and has no personal stake in the story. He's just doing stuff because it's his job, and there's no real attachment felt to anything he does. Especially annoying is that there's nothing ever made of the counterpoint between him and Uzzi. Both are men who were brutally wronged, both are pale white (whether it be from facepaint, or human experimentation), and both extracted violent and murderous vigilante justice. Yet the story never acknowledges the similarities, and when they do finally meet, they barely converse, Bloodshot shoots Uzzi's gun away, the clown instantly leaps off a bridge, and the story just stops.
There's one pretty dumb moment when Bloodshot detains a group of criminals, and when they ask who he is, he tells them! I guess he doesn't pay that much heed to the SECRET part of his job description!
The art here is decent. Some spots were drawn worse than others, but overall, it's ok. The cover isn't very good. The faces are a bit underdrawn, the multiple-shots arc is poorly drawn, and the gunshots look more like lasers!
While this issue of Bloodshot has a fun character in Uzzi the Clown, it unfortunately wastes him. Still, he's an extremely entertaining addition to the story, which would have otherwise been irredeemably boring...
Superhuman secret agent Bloodshot is on assignment in the Middle East, with instructions to find terrorist Bhutu Hassan, an extremist who has stolen a nuclear bomb, and with it intends to 'liberate' Palestine. Bloodshot tracks the madman down, but unfortunately he's up against a villain who's more than happy with detonating the nuke the moment he sees trouble...
Bloodshot Issue #18 is more mediocrity from this series. The plot is a bore that never takes advantage of its interesting setting, using it only as a backdrop for a stereotypical (not inaccurate, but cliched nonetheless) villain. The stolen nuke is the only thing that comes close to creating tension in the story, and even it's just in a scant couple of pages before it's defused.
Bloodshot is dull and overpowered here. Nothing in the story poses a challenge for him, and in the climax, he effortlessly takes down ten heavily armed bad guys in seconds.
The story's villain, Bhutu Hassan, mugs a lot, but there's nothing too him, and he puts up little fight against Bloodshot either.
A particularly bad scene is one which showcases a dumb part of Bloodshot's superpower set. He puts his hand on a computer monitor, and the robotic nanites in his bloodstream allow him to communicate with his boss Neville through his office. Nevermind the idiocy of doing this when he's touching the monitor, not the computer itself, it's absurd that he simply needs to rest his hand on a computer and talk, and he's instantly able to talk to someone at a different computer, halfway across the world no less! And this is from using a computer described as ancient by 1994 standards!
The artwork is decent, but the background in some spots really leave something to be desired. Those white void backgrounds are annoying enough, but this issue has both yellow and red ones on the same page! It looks absurd, like a kid got loose with the Bloodshot master prints in Paint! The cover is ok, but the background, or lack thereof, is boring.
Again this series completely wastes its plots' potential with Bloodshot Issue #18...