Bloodshot’s Day Off #1 (Valiant Comics)
It was Canada Day up here over the weekend.
July 1st is the day that we celebrate our country – we danced for our independence instead of fighting for it, handled thing diplomatically. We’ve made a lot of mistakes as a country and we’re still making mistakes today, but we’re trying to do better and I like to think that one day, we will.
But you can’t know yourself unless you know your history. You have to know where you’ve been to get where you’re going, and that includes all the terrible things you may have been a part of. In the case of a country, that means knowing the things your country did in your name. Residential schools are as much a part of who we are as anything, and we need to move past that by acknowledging that it happened and striving to do better.
So, this comic.
Bloodshot is a comic about a super secret weapon that was designed to kill a man powerful enough to think himself god. He was a golem, an unstoppable killing machine, but over the past five years we’ve seen him evolve, gain a soul, lose and understand and claim his identity. We’ve seen him strive to do better by acknowledging who and he was and contrasting that to who he is.
He then discovered that he was only one in a long line of such weapons, each a refinement and improvement over the last. There was a Jewish man that was changed in World War II and an African American that was changed in Vietnam and after their wars they were locked on an island until they managed to escape and returned to America, where they helped defeat a virus that was tied to their condition.
As a comic, Bloodshot has dabbled in all sorts of genre – horror, sci-fi, action – and always done something interesting with whatever it is that is being presented. This is something else again, though: this is aftermath. After the war, after the fighting, after the violence – what’s left? Can you ever go home? War changes everything, the trauma of war changes everything, and there’s far too many people that are happy to send soldiers off to die but leave them to their own devices when they return.
These two? They’ve been fighting since their wars and were never given an off day, never allowed to speak to their families, cut off and forced to die and kill and die again. Now that the general public knows about them, though, the government is being forced to acknowledge them and their ridiculous amount of non-stop combat hours, and so both of them are being given shore leave.
We get Holocaust-era Bloodshot going back to say good-bye to the world he knew, visiting the grave of the woman he was supposed to marry, meeting the grandson on his old rabbi. Vietnam-era Bkloodshot goes to make peace with his dying father, a minister who tried to save his son from the war. And both of them – always at one another’s throats – find themselves alone, find themselves relying on one another. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming and a good place to start if you’re looking to get into Valiant, which, if you like superheroes, you should.
Writer Eliot Rahal does a good job of exploring the aftermath of war from two very different eras and putting two lost people into a modern context. Khari Evans does some beautiful linework, capturing expression and the weight of loss, while colorist Andrew Dalhouse brings out the light and and adds flow to some very emotional moments.
This is a comic about finding family and home when the world has passed you by, when the war is done and aftermath is all that remains. It’s a comic about accepting what was and trying to find a way to be human when war has made you a monster. It’s fantastic and a great way to reflect on what was and what could be.
Happy Canada Day.