Since BLOODSHOT's debut, Valiant has made it more than transparent that Project Rising Spirit is a really, really messed up and twisted place. It's the cliche shadowy government organization. They value progress over the subject's well being and they'll do anything to reach their objective. As Valiant's reboot has pushed forward, we've jumped deeper and deeper into this unpleasant organization. We've seen what they're willing to do to get what they want and, with the book's latest creative team, we've witnessed PRS try a different approach. Despite being more open and "friendly", they've created countless enemies over the decades and, if you're reading the current storyline, then you know the past has come back to haunt them. This issue, however, casts aside the woes of the modern era and goes several decades into the past to show us how it all began.
First and foremost, if BLOODSHOT & H.A.R.D. CORPS is one of your top titles and you absolutely love its mythos, you're going to have a blast with this issue. Die-had fans are sure to dig experiencing everything from the very first test subject to the debut of Bloodshot and why the plug was pulled on the H.A.R.D. Corps. Co-writers Christos Gage and Joshua Dysart cover a lot of ground over a lengthy period of time, yet they're still able to tell a powerful tale in each decade and present how it all impacts a key employee at PRS. It's loaded with tragedy, action and new tid-bits here and there that big fans are certain to appreciate. The fact they have to cover so much history means some characters will come and go before you can legitimately care about them, but due to sharp writing, there are still a handful of impactful developments.
There's a grand total of six -- yes, six -- people working to create the visuals for this comic (that number includes the colorist, Ian Hannin). Despite jumping from talent to talent, the issue maintains a relatively consistent set of visuals. No style feels out of place, either. Each are able to convey the ugly nature of this story and all of the cruel elements it has to offer. There's a few panels throughout the experience that are sure to make you gaze at them for a few extra moments.
As clearly stated on the cover, this zero issue looks at "the decades of destruction" that happened under the H.A.R.D. Corps, but unless you're a completionist or an absolutely die-hard fan, it comes off as sort of... well, unnecessary. Don't get me wrong, it's well-written and certainly entertaining, but ultimately, it continues to show things we already knew (for the most part, that is). It primarily focuses on how cold Project Rising Spirit is and what they did to people before being able to create the ultimate soldier. We already knew about their heartless history and how their operatives had minimal time to live, but this exists to add a few details here and there and establish an emotional connection to the damage they've done. However, while the stories certainly have emotional moments, it's tough to feel attached because there's only so much time before we jump into the next decade.
With Bloodshot having even less of a role in the primary title, a zero issue seems like the perfect chance to give the guy a little more depth, so this partially feels like a missed opportunity. Yes, the title plainly states this is about the H.A.R.D. Corps, but with Bloodshot serving as the focal point of the cover, I wouldn't be surprised if that misleads some fans into thinking he plays a major role.
Minor art gripe: the display of motion during a certain kill doesn't really come off as cinematic and instead leaves you looking at it for a little bit to follow what exactly happened. I mean, it's certainly obvious what went down, but having the faded image of what was just moments prior made for a somewhat jumbled image. Also, before that, there's a scene where Arthur is walking it comes off as very stiff. His ankle/foot are bending in a very odd way -- it essentially looks like his ankle will snap if he lands with that foot.
If you're really passionate about the H.A.R.D. Corps, then you're sure to be satisfied as co-writers Christos Gage and Joshua Dysart take your hand and walk you through the organization's dark, harsh and bloody history. However, odds are you'll find yourself down the middle if you're part of the crowd that thinks Bloodshot has taken a backseat in the title. That said, Gage and Dysart continue to impress as co-writers and, despite there being a whole lot of artists, the visuals remain consistent. However, whether this is worth purchasing will be entirely up to just how interested you are in the H.A.R.D. Corps' history.