“Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps” #17 is the final chapter of “The H.A.R.D. Way” arc that kicked off this revamped title. Writers Christos Gage and Joshua Dysart have given the comic formerly known as “Bloodshot” a welcome shot in the arm with the addition of a new H.A.R.D.Corps team, and in just four issues, have built this group of unknown characters into a unique team of heroes that are now ready to support this new and improved title.
It’s a recipe not unlike Dysart’s “Harbinger”: take a group of individuals, infuse them with distinctive personalities, and then forge a dynamic as team. With the H.A.R.D. Corps now established, Dysart and Gage use them to their fullest in the storyline’s conclusion. In fact, the writers waste no time baptizing them into the Valiant Universe by going up against its premiere villain, Toyo Harada. While Harada has been featured aplenty in many Valiant comics of late and it might seem premature to have this new team face him so soon, Gage and Dysart make it work by limiting the scope of the battle, leaving open the possibility of a bigger throwdown at some point in the future.
One team member in particular demonstrates the scope of his heroism, already altering the status quo of the team that has barely yet solidified. The characterization here is excellent, as this rookie hero holds his own against the most formidable foe in the Valiant U; living up to the very name of the publisher, in fact, by sparing his teammates from an unwinnable confrontation and saving their lives in the process.
Also excellent is the pacing and dialogue throughout, culminating in the climactic battle sequence, delivering a surprisingly powerful moment that probably wouldn’t be expected so early in the run of a title with such new characters. The team of artists deserves kudos for this just as much as the writers, setting the pace with perfectly designed panel layouts that roll out the story without distracting from it; there are no flashy or gratuitous splash pages that draw attention to the art; instead it simply facilitates the story, and does so nicely.
Gage and Dysart in the past have both individually demonstrated their talents for quality storytelling overall, and great characterization and terrific dialogue in particular. In “Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps” #17, this writing duo, like their new superhero team, has officially molded a synergy of its own to quickly make this this comic the latest of Valiant’s worth reading.