Sunday, November 9, 2014

Bloodshot #4 and #5 (Acclaim Comics)

Four/five issues in, and Acclaim Comics' remake of Valiant property Bloodshot is a vast improvement, particularly in its handling of the series' central/core mystery...

Resurrected man Bloodshot has returned to the site of his rebirth-The D.O.A. headquarters. Desperate to know who he is and why he was designed to be a superhuman weapon, Bloodshot tears his way through the base. After a confrontation with his 'creator' Doctor Stroheim, Bloodshot is lured deeper into the facility by the D.O.A. director Simon Oreck, a sinister puppetmaster with big plans for his wayward living weapon...

Bloodshot #4 is a very good issue, but it does get off to a rocky start. The first half is narrated by Dr. Stroheim, and is quite well-written! His actual dialogue, however, is annoyingly overwitten! Thankfully once his walls of text are over, we don't get any more big clumps, and most of the remaining dialogue is very amusing and well-written, such as when Bloodshot says to Stroheim, his creator "If you're God, then I'm an atheist!" right before knocking him out!

Series main villain Simon Oreck does nothing this issue but watch what's going on, and spout off some pretty facepalming dialogue. The only other dialogue misstep in this issue is when Bloodshot says "We belong dead" at the end. It's not bad, and it's certainly fitting, but it's aped straight from Bride of Frankenstein.

Unlike all other issues of this series, this one has no inner monologue from Bloodshot, so there's none of the classic intellidumb pretentious Bloodshot dialogue. He does speak a lot though, so it's not like you take away his narration boxes and he's mute. He even gets some religiously thematic lines to make the story sound clever, and they actually sound fitting, rather than clumsily shoehorned in to be symbolism for the sake of symbolism.

Bloodshot is great here! He hasn't had a whole lot of personality in past issues, but his struggle and his questions have been enough to carry the series thus far. Thankfully his character really does start to grow here. Also, he is a total badass!

The artwork is decent. Cluttered as usual, but not bad. The cover is pretty meh, but it at least shows a good attention to detail, as there are small aspects of continuity that it knows.

One last thing to mention is that twice this issue misspells Mary Shelley's name! That, and the page layout in one section of the Comixology copy is out of order (Pages 18 to 21). This is already a problem just because it's happened, but funnily enough, the story flows well if you read the pages in order, or in this skewed version!

Issue #5, while lacking in any action, is a nicely surreal story that answers some questions. It wraps up the mystery of who Bloodshot is, but that doesn't mean the series is rudderless, as he's still yet to figure out what he is now, and what he can and should be-And of course, he knows the name of his former self, but not the person. It's good that this series didn't answer all its mysteries right away, or take forever to do so!

Simon Oreck is front and centre here, and while we still have no idea who he is, why he's a bad guy, how or why he's hooked into the D.O.A. HQ's computer, or why he's fatter than Mr. Creosote after an all week eating binge, he exudes a villainous charm to an extent. It's just a shame that aside from confusing Bloodshot (and the reader) with the D.O.A. HQ's bizarre layout, Oreck doesn't actually do anything.

The dialogue here is very good! Not only are Oreck's lines* and revelations great stuff, but Bloodshot's final reply is awesome! He may not have a whole lot of personality to him, but what is there is badass!

*"What is reality, and how does one know to distinguish the real from errors of perception? More specifically, what name is occluded by the codename Bloodshot? Angelo Mortalli, perhaps? And if so, who was Angelo Mortalli? A minor footnote in the history of organized crime, or the victim of a greater conspiracy?"

There is, however, the trademark hilariously pretentious Bloodshot narration. "Belly of the beast; the infrastructure of deception. Grinding cogs hammered together back when greed and ambition were powered by steam-Viral memetics embedded in mass media entertainment, carried by fiber-optic rivers of light-All part of the cancerous apparatus of corruption." *Sigh*, I miss the days when being corrupt wasn't a carcinogen...

The Reservoir Dogs connection is poorly explained, unfortunately, and just comes across as confusing. Next issue clears it up a bit more, thankfully.

The only other downfall to this issue is the artwork. It's cluttered, as usual, and it's also very confusing as to where Bloodshot is going in the D.O.A. HQ and what's happening to him.

The cover is a Golden/Silver Age 'parody', like a few other Acclaim issues from this date (I've no idea why), and while I recognize the cover to XO Man-O-War #10 as an Avengers #4 parody, I've no idea what Bloodshot #5's is imitating. All that out of the way, it looks stylish, and is well-drawn, but the tone is pretty off given the psychedelic 60's disco look it has.

This is a great Bloodshot two-parter, and it comes recommended from me!...

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