By: Duane Swierczynski (Writer), Barry Kitson, Stefano Gaudiano (Artists), Brian Reber (Colorist)

The Story: Bloodshot, in search for food and proteins, gets ambushed by Kuretich as he is on the verge of death.

The Review: I didn’t have many positive things to say about the last issue. As the title is caught in the big crossover known as Harbinger Wars, it gave us a rehashing of events in ways that didn’t altogether made sense sometime. It was an example of a bad tie-in issue and was a rare misstep for a series that was giving its readers plenty of big fun and violent action for them to enjoy.

Thankfully, this issue makes amends for that latest one by propelling the story quite a lot as it gives us a focus on the character of Bloodshot. Here, we see just how exactly the character can move forward in its concept as we are given something that has been a long time coming for those that followed the title: the confrontation with Dr. Kuretich. In many ways, that character had been a presence in the book as he had been a thorn in the side of Bloodshot, always trying to manipulate him toward one goal or another. Here, we get to see them confront each other as we see Kuretich’s side of the medal.

In a way, it almost seems like the plot of Harbinger Wars is put aside as we focus on the relation between Kuretich and Bloodshot, which is shown in full for the first actual time. The story is divided in two parts: one centered around Bloodshot, while the other shows how Kuretich’s associates are trying to capture the psiots following Bloodshot. While the parts featuring the psiot kids does give them some characterization and allow Swierczynski to further develop Kara just a little bit.

What’s much more satisfying to read, though, are the Bloodshot part, as not only does the character makes some massive leaps in terms of development, he also finally deals with a lot of things from his past, all represented in Kuretich. Beaten down, out of proteins and with difficulty to concentrate, it is in these specific conditions that he has to battle Kuretich and his forces. However, it is the personal reasons for why the conflict is going and why both persons just want to finish it that makes it interesting to begin with. Kuretich, representing the past, wants to give dignity to his adversary by making sure Bloodshot, despite his current situation, dies without receiving more pain, while Bloodshot just wants to survive in order to discover what happened as he also wants to go forward with his life. It’s a big moment for both characters and while these things are not written in the most obvious of ways, it’s still very rewarding for long time readers.

The action that passes in this issue is pretty solid, as usual, even though most of the brutality is given to the main character. It is still quite violent and Swierczynski does take advantage of the fact that this character can receive a high dosage of pain as Bloodshot gets in an advanced state of decrepitude as the story goes on. Still, the internal struggle as well as the external struggle is kept interesting as each character are changed after the action scenes, some in surprising ways.

What’s much less surprising and to be expected would be a degree of quality and professionalism brought by Barry Kitson and Stefano Gaudiano. Here, they allow the gory details to be expressed without letting it overcome the actual story or washing over the details over the more violent actions. While the faces of the characters are a little bit sketchy at times, they are nonetheless expressive enough, even though the main expressions of some characters seem to be angry or determined and that’s it.

Brian Reber, on his side, does justice to the tone of the script by bringing a lot of somber colors nuanced by the warmer colors that the violence brings. There is a reason why there are a lot of warm colors when violence is being dealt, as it creates a contrast with the duller coloring and the use of black in the calmer moments with Bloodshot. The coloring with the psiots is done well, yet it is unfortunately standard stuff, just like the script there unfortunately.

The Conclusion: While there are some uneven qualities in the scripts, Swierczynski nonetheless brings some very good scenes and development with the titular character, bringing in some surprises and action along with the work of Kitson, Gaudiano and Reber.

Grade: B

Hugo Robberts Larivière