Valiant Entertainment 2015
Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Butch Guice
Coloured by David Baron
Upon hearing reports of mass shootings by gunmen who looked just like Bloodshot, Ray felt responsible and started hunting down the killers. He quickly discovered the only way to stop the imposters was to kill them and reabsorb their nanites—slowly transforming back into the monster he used to be. At the same time, Ray found himself drawn to Magic, the ex-girlfriend of one of the victims, and against his better judgment allowed her to join him on his journey. Ray and Magic aren’t the only ones looking for the killers. Two FBI agents are also on the trail and mistakenly believe Bloodshot to be responsible for the shootings. But as Ray and Magic just found out, the real culprit is one of the remaining infected, who appears to be taking the nanites for himself…
I am so involved with what Jeff has been doing here it’s amazing. I’ve admitted giving up on the character partway through its first run but now this version after everything he’s gone through has found a new way to interest readers. Not just a killing machine he’s a man trying to discover who he is and where he fits in in this world. That the Nanites and what he was has affected him so deeply that he took to self-medicating, if you consider booze and cocaine medicating, adds that real person dimension.
Having seemingly shed his delusions, Bloodsquirt and Kay, after having met Magic and being smitten with her it almost looks like he’s on the right track. Though I have to say he’s slowed down a bit in tracking the rest of those infected with the nanites. I kind of like that because it delves into his fear of taking on too many and reverting and losing what he’s just found with Magic. There’s deeper characterization going on here than just what’s written on the page and with Butch providing the visuals you get a greater sense of that.
Opening with this Dwight person being infected and seeing himself act out of character in his own mind was fantastic stuff. Though when we see him at work being harassed by his boss I was kind of hoping that he’d take her out at least. He doesn’t get to stay around long enough for us to see how he put off being affected but we do see that the Hunter is in play here and how Ray knows it well that’s just cool.
Now it’s getting serious, well yeah just go with it, as the Hunter is getting stronger by collecting more nanites. This means if Ray is going to have a chance at beating he’s going to have to get to the last victim first. Is Magic a help or hindrance to him in all this? It’s interesting to see Ray struggle with that and how Magic has decided she’s there for him regardless and doesn’t plan on leaving his side. It’s weird how some relationships form, more so considering how they met.
Don’t forget Agent’s Hoyt and Festival because they still have roles to play in all this and they are actually doing a better job piecing things together than anyone else. Even if they are two steps behind in the chase.
Butch has a great eye and his composition and characters have such an organic earthy feel to them that it somehow suits these characters incredibly well. Sure Ray’s wearing the black t-shirt with the red dot but he’s handsome, rugged looking and yet you can see the weight of the world on his face as well and it’s hard to combine such things as easily as he does. His style adds something to the series mystique and mystery and digging that contribution.
Not what you’d expect from a Bloodshot story and yet it’s why we love reading so much. Jeff is taking him on this journey that’s making him into a better style of Punisher than that other guy is.