This is it, Bloodshot fans. BLOODSHOT & H.A.R.D CORPS' final story has begun and, thankfully for us, it's off to a really awesome start. Co-writers Duffy Boudreau and Christos Gage have created an engaging opening that pretty much delivers on every level. The pacing is tight and it's full of excitement. Sure, odds are you'll be able to predict a good deal of the twists and turns along the way, but that doesn't change the fact they're handled very well and there isn't a dull moment. As if a satisfying turn of events in this issue wasn't enough, Boudreau and Gage hit us with an attention-grabbing cliffhanger that promises one hell of an explosive follow-up. You may see it coming a mile away, but it'll still leave you beyond anxious to see what'll go down next. It's also worth praising that this story feels like it's placing the focus back on Bloodshot without blatantly neglecting the team, either. That's sure to please the crowd that feels like he's been a secondary character in his own title.
Artist Al Barrionuevo and colorist Matt Milla are a great fit for this book. Everything from the tones to the character work not only creates a great atmosphere in this fictional world, but also presents a way more expressive versrion of Bloodshot. It's a nice break from the usual (e.g. Bloodshot jumping between stern and badass faces). Don't get me wrong, I love having Bloodshot send a chill down my spine -- something this team can accomplish -- but it's great seeing so much more depth in his eyes, too. They also dish out some very creative panel layouts. The handling of the action is great and you can really feel the motion behind those bits. From Bloodshot leaping down a stairwell and firing his guns to someone leaping through the air and unleashing a blast, these and moments really deliver a cinematic feeling. It's not just the chaotic moments these two deliver on, either. Even something as simple as an injured Bloodshot crawling through the desert is gripping thanks to some clever panel layouts and perspectives.
A few expressions felt a little unfitting. For example, there's a moment where it looks like Palmer is almost about to sneeze or is in the middle of a yawn instead of forcefully speaking to someone. This only stood out to me a couple of times though, so it's hardly a big deal.
This issue is a bit of a double-edge sword. It's the beginning of the end for the series, and even though we know Bloodshot will play a role in other titles (ARMOR HUNTERS and UNITY), it's disappointing knowing his series is racing towards its conclusion. While this is a bummer, it doesn't counter the fact this is an excellent issue and a ridiculously strong start for the title's final story. The opening chapter is thrilling, packs some mighty fine visuals, and ends on a note that'll make you want to see what happens next right away. I just hope the H.A.R.D. Corp members will get more time to shine before this all wraps up (especially Vagabond). If you've ever wanted to check out Bloodshot's world, this is the issue you need to get. It's a jumping on spot and, thanks to a thorough recap page, you won't feel left in the dark at all.