One of my favorite aspects of Jeff Lemire’s run on Bloodshot (both in this volume and Reborn preceding it) is that Lemire has elevated the concept above the tropes. The character started as “What if the Punisher was also Wolverine?” and struggled to move beyond that. Now under Lemire’s pen, it’s become a story about a man trying to regain his humanity while protecting his loved ones. Along the way, he’s also learned that he has a legacy, with other Bloodshots through history.
This one-shot issue, by Ray Fawkes, Lemire, and Renato Guedes, delves into the history of one of those past Bloodshots- Bloundhound, the canine member of his line.
In the depths of World War I, Doctor Henry Fulbright has a plan. By augmenting and altering a pack of dogs, he will create the ultimate soldiers- incredibly obedient, impervious to pain and fiercely loyal. Fulbright is met with skepticism in the trenches, but the pack is able to prove themselves on the battlefield. Unfortunately, in the aftermath, a counter attack kills Fulbright, leaving Bloodhound and his brothers master-less.
Fawkes and Lemire dive deep into the horrors of war here in a wonderful way. The hounds are depicted as disposable, and bit of a laughing stock. In the middle of the battle, half of the pack falls, but Fulbright is determined to see the program through. The story uses the principle of show-don’t tell so well in that way. What he’s done to the pack is repugnant, but it’s not stated on the page, it’s shown through the horrors of what the hounds experience. Despite that though, Bloodhound, the last of the pack in one piece, is shown as a loving and loyal animal, displaying much more humanity than his master did.
Guedes’ style has evolved so much over the last few years, and it’s used to great effect here. It feels like a cross between Ben Oliver and Alex Ross, with a level of photorealism that helps the story here. He shows how horrible this single battle depicted is, with both human and canine soldiers being maimed and killed horribly. He also is able to create wonderful characters with just a look, and a muttered line of cynical dialogue.
This is a great book about the horrors of war, and a tremendous addition to the ongoing saga of Bloodshot.
Bloodshot Salvation #9 is available now from Valiant in stores and digitally.