Co-writers Duffy Boudreau and Christos Gage do a terrific job making BLOODSHOT & H.A.R.D CORPS feel epic. They keep the story concise and successfully incorporate some absolutely massive changes. By the time you're done reading this issue, you can tell the future has been altered. This isn't a reading experience where you'll finish and things seem like they're back to normal or the changes are temporary. There's ominous and very exciting changes on the horizon. But before everything is put on a new path, we're treated to a short yet gripping course of events. It loosely focuses on the internal conflict within PRS (who can you trust and what should you do about it?) and, before you know it, the explosions begin. Honestly, there isn't any action here that'll really wow you, but it's satisfying enough and there's one very cool panel of Bloodshot in unarmed combat.
Interestingly enough, Kozol receives the most personality in this one. Everyone else is kind of going through the motions and reacting accordingly, but it's Kozol who receives a bit of insight and even a slight amount of change (not for the better, of course). You can tell they're really trying to boost his status and it's most definitely working. Oh, and you can't help but love the little tease about Bloodshot's future with Unity.
Artists Al Barrionuevo and Brian Level make a good fit for the book's tone. The emphasis on rougher details means close-ups work particularly well in the issue. There's a wonderfully villainous look at Kozol (the heavy shading sells it) and, in a different scene, you can really feel Bloodshot's pain. His eyes alone speak volumes. Colorists Matt Milla and Allen Passalaqua make sure the spectacle never goes over the top and stays appropriate for the book's mood; however, it was a little distracting when a couple of backgrounds were a stronger shade of red than everything else.
As stated above, the action here never really does too much to impress. It almost feels by the numbers considering the variety of powers and weapons that are available. Also, it's unfortunate that, aside from Flatline and Palmer, the remaining Corps members feel completely cast aside.
Minor gripes: there's a couple of pretty big tropes (dark meeting room with spotlights and "you go, I'll stay behind!") and the art comes off as a bit rushed in a few spots.
Bloodshot's book usually revolves around character development and shocking action, but this one is all about bringing some big change to this universe. Sure, there's some action and a wee bit of focus on Flatline and Palmer, but ultimately, it's the final course of events that'll really grip you. The execution of this development is awesomely cinematic and left me wondering about this universe's future. It would have been nice to see Bloodshot and some of the H.A.R.D. Corps members get a little more love, but the payoff with this plot is huge. Now it's just a matter of seeing how the follow-up is handled!