Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bloodshot #17 (Classic Valiant)

I'm of the opinion that comic characters The HARD Corps have the ability to elevate whatever mediocre Valiant comic they guest star in. Unfortunately, Classic Valiant seemed all too keen to test the limits of that theory, whether it be by having them appear in the mediocre Bloodshot, having the bland Armorines in the Corps' own series, or by tying them in with an event story that they have nothing to do with. Today, I'll be focusing on the first of those occasions...

After the events of last issue, superhuman secret agent Bloodshot is in a coma, having been shot in the head. The doctor's at the trauma centre have no idea what to make of him, and Bloodshot's associates back in England are worried. Meanwhile, superpowered corporate mercenary strike team HARD Corps, having encountered Bloodshot before, are keen on testing his DNA, to see if he's a Harbinger (mutant that they can copy superpowers from), and make off with him under false pretenses. Back at the trauma centre, Bloodshot's coworker Jillian Alcott is furious at his disappearance, and teams up with Sergeant Major Olga Petrolka, an ally of Bloodshot's, to find out who's taken him. Back with the HARD Corps, they're running some tests, and unwittingly set off a failsafe with the robotic nanites in Bloodshot's body, and he wakes up on autopilot, with intent to kill all of his 'enemies'...

This is a somewhat tolerable issue of Bloodshot thanks to the inclusion of the HARD Corps, but the writing is too subpar. Neither Sergeant Major Petrolka or Jillian contribute anything to the plot, making their scenes entirely pointless, no-one has any character, there's little context for who the HARD Corps are, and there's little Bloodshot, as he only regains consciousness in the last third, and is only himself in the last two pages. That last point is slightly forgivable given the circumstances of the plot, but I'd only forgive it if the characters picking up the slack were well-rounded. Now, the HARD Corps are well-defined characters in their own series, and they are a likeable presence here, thankfully, even though we know little about them in this context.

The ending is the most unforgivable part of this issue. When Bloodshot returns to normal, he recognizes the HARD Corps as friends, and starts talking with them...for all of two panels! The scene abruptly cuts away mid-conversation, which is already poor writing on its own, but it's doubly infuriating for anyone who actually wanted to read Bloodshot and the HARD Corp conversing (me, for one).

On last thing to discuss involving this issue's cast. Sergeant Major Petrolka was a likeable character last issue, so I'm extra annoyed that when she appears again, and for the last time, she's entirely wasted! I don't even know why she's so distraught over Bloodshot's condition (as in, stay in the trauma centre over him for days distraught). They're not an item, nor do they know each-other all that much. I guess the sporadic security discussions, and the one quickie they had last issue must have really been the beginning of a beautiful relationship!

The artwork here is ok, but the same look of wide-mouthed shock on character Miss Lincoln's face (pictured at the top) is damn near copied for Jillian a few pages later, and Bloodshot's face in the last panel looks so wooden that Gunslinger must've slipped him a roofie! The cover looks great! It shows an actual scene from the issue, and one that manages to make for a nifty cover!

The inclusion of the awesome HARD Corps can do little to save this issue of Bloodshot from mediocrity, unfortunately...

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