This issue marks the start of an all-new story. Yes, that means co-writers Joshua Dysart and Christos Gage are not only tasked with playing catch up with new readers, but they also need to establish a whole new plot. Needless to say, that means this is an issue with plenty of exposition (despite a more than thorough intro page). In the hands of another writer, this task could seriously weigh down this issue. But in the hands of Gage and Dysart? They're able to hit us with one info-dump after another, but they do so skillfully and it's never a redundant experience for longtime readers.
A fair portion of this is cleverly tossed into a mission briefing, so instead of a character randomly saying something like, "Remember Oreck? You know, the blah, blah, blah," it's put into the panels in an organic way and makes sense. These new recruits need to learn about this dude and what he's done, and it just so happens new readers do as well. It's a win-win.
I also love how new characters always have captions explaining their powers. This way it avoids the cliche ramblings about what they can do and why they're awesome at it. It's little things like this which help make the book a more engaging read.
It should really go without saying that their ability to write natural voices is topnotch yet again. Sure, there's loads of exposition in this one, but these still feel like real people with real emotions. I'm consistently impressed with their writing and their ability to always keep me immersed in the issue. The fact there's an absolutely brutal fight with Bloodshot doesn't hurt, either.
Bart Sears illustrates this issue and it's definitely a drastic change from the previous look we were getting used to. His characters are buffer and more chiseled. Sometimes this can leave individuals looking a bit stiff or uncomfortable when they'e still, but for the most part, it's a solid and animated set of visuals. Only a couple of things stood out to me (Flatline's facial features during a close-up, for example), but when combined with the colorists, the pages becomes particularly vibrant and fun when everything begins to hit the fan.
There's a team battle that takes place and it's loaded with potential, but we really only get to hone in on one of the fights. It's a vicious and absurdly cool course of events, but then we just get glimpses of the rest of these fights. That'll always be the double-edged sword with team battles, but with so many thrilling abilities at their disposal, it would have been neat to chime in on some of the other characters a little more. After all, these people are training for moments like this, so it would be appreciated to expand how each are feeling/operating in the moment.
This is a team book and Bloodshot has already had plenty of time to shine prior to the title change, so the decision to really focus on the new cast is understandable. However, can you really blame me for wanting Bloodshot to have a bigger role? I know page space is limited and juggling this many characters (while also fleshing them out) certainly isn't an easy task, but take away the title and I'd honestly think Palmer's the main character and Bloodshot's just another dude on the roster.
There's a flashback scene with a different set of artists (ChrisCross and Victor Olazaba), and on its own I have no complaints, but when sandwiched between Sears' work, the difference in styles really sticks out (especially since it uses two of the same characters in the very next scene).
Valiant's promoting this as "must read" and I agree with them. If you've been asking yourself, "What's a Bloodshot?" this is the issue to check out. Despite being a jumping on point, it's crafted in a way that appeals to both new and longtime fans. New fans won't feel lost because all of the basics are thoroughly covered, and pre-existing fans won't be bored because, as usual, it's a solid script and hugely entertaining. The new look will probably be hit or miss for some, but even if you're not the biggest fan of the visuals, the strong script and action-packed developments are sure to win you over. You want a team book with exciting action, good writing and fun powers? Look no further than Bloodshot.