This August, “MIND MGMT” writer Matt Kindt and artist ChrisCross take on the deadliest soldier in the Valiant Universe by giving a look at his past. “Bloodshot” #0 serves as an origin story for the title character, shedding new light on one of the most mysterious and shrouded characters in the Valiant library. Writer Duane Swierczynski opened the series with an intriguing story prospect for Bloodshot’s past: all his memories are lies, implanted by Project Rising Spirit, and now that “Bloodshot” is set to turn into “Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps” following the conclusion of “Harbinger Wars,” Kindt has the unique opportunity to explore the origin of the title character, something that a modern Valiant zero issue has yet to do.
CBR News spoke with Kindt about his upcoming issue, exploring the origin of the amnesiac killing machine, how he approached the writing assignment as a fan of the series, the appeal of Bloodshot and the challenge of constructing an origin story. Plus, exclusive art and an update on the production process for his “MIND MGMT” film.
CBR News: Matt, “Bloodshot” #0 is one of the few Valiant zero issues that actually explores the origin of the title character. With the massive amount of history Duane Swierczynski left open in the Bloodshot mythology, where did you choose to begin for this issue?
Matt Kindt: I started out as a fan of it. I read [Duane’s] whole run, and I was like, “What would I want to see?” I was actually reading it and for a while, I forgot I was reading it because I was going to be writing this thing. I started reading it because it was awesome. When it was done, I was like, “Well, what would I want to see?” and I just pitched an idea for what I would want to see next and that’s where it came from.
In comics, there’s frequently an adversary in an origin. You stated in a recent interview that you see Bloodshot’s past as his own adversary. How do you explore this in your issue?
To me, that was my biggest question: What is he? You read that and you wonder if you’re rooting for him or if he’s a horrible person — that was important to me, to figure out if we’re rooting for or against this guy. If we’re rooting for him, then why? To do that, we have to see where he comes from, what he’s about. All of those were questions I felt I needed to answer so I could see who I was rooting for. [Laughs]
A big part of the series has been the presence of Project Rising Spirit as a huge, clandestine organization, something you have a bit of experience with writing in “MIND MGMT” at Dark Horse. How did you approach the concept of a nameless, faceless organization in “Bloodshot” #0?
It’s its own thing. I’ve read every Valiant book because they all flow together in a way that’s unique. I wanted to make sure I got that right. The trick is to make them different. The shadowy organizations and the conspiracies can be cliche, so if you don’t handle it correctly, it’s like — what’s the difference between this one and Hydra, or any other organization? That’s the challenge: What’s their mission, who makes them up, what are their agents like, what’s their deal? That’s the fun part for me. Bloodshot is such a unique character, it was easy to figure out what their motivation was based on reverse engineering what Project Rising Spirit was going to be about.
In an origin story, you want to give information without giving too much away, revealing all the answers. How did you find that balance in “Bloodshot” #0?
Ultimately, it’s about a good story. All the other stuff — explaining and answering a bunch of stuff — a lot of the time, you may want that answer, but it doesn’t make a good story. A lot of that is picking and choosing what I’m going to show, what’s going to get answered and what’s going to get explained. Ultimately, it’s about Bloodshot. To get to the heart of what he is and who he is, you do have to explain some of what Project Rising Spirit is, because that’s where we came from. I don’t want to spoil any of it, but they’re so intertwined that you have to answer some of the questions, but you don’t have to answer everything to make you care about Bloodshot.
What is it about the character of Bloodshot that appealed to you in creating an origin?
Honestly, on a superficial level, I was reading those books and there were moments where I was laughing because it’s so crazy. The action is so violent. It may be one of the most violent books I’ve ever read! It’s one of those things where I thought, “What is he doing? His arm breaks and he uses the broken bone in his arm to shiv some guy — What? I’ve never read anything like that!” That was part of the attraction when they asked me to do it. It’s so much more over-the-top than anything — I have moments of violence here and there and everything, but this is different. Getting to do something where I’m like, “I have to come up with a good story, but I also want to top everything Duane did before that.” I don’t know if I did.
Was there any violent act that you pitched that didn’t get through?
No! It’s so funny. I was laughing while I was sitting on the couch writing and my wife asked, “Why are you laughing?” I’d been brainstorming for 20 minutes about the different ways Bloodshot can violently perpetrate violence on other people. I was bulletpointing different ideas, trying to find something that hadn’t been done before. I was like, “What kind of job is this that this is what I get to do during the day?” It was kind of awesome on a superficial level. That’s the fun part, but I still want you to care about the character, but this is the candy coating.
As an illustrator in your own right, what do you think makes CrissCross a good fit artistically for your storytelling style?
I didn’t know who they were going to pick to do this story until it was done, so they picked him and I said, “That’s great! I like his art a lot.” We’re working together and he’s really open minded. Having that dialogue between writer and artist, that’s what’s good about collaborating. I write and draw my own thing all the time, so part of the attraction of doing this stuff is seeing what the artist can do and trying to push them, and see what kind of ideas they come up with. I write for myself and I draw while I’m writing it, but getting to work with someone who brings their own ideas to it is a bonus of collaborating.
Has there been any scene you’ve written so far that he’s struggled with depicting?
He just started drawing it, so we’ll see. In the middle of the book, it starts to get pretty violent. Hopefully he doesn’t have a problem with it.
So much of Bloodshot’s personality to date has been informed by what he remembers of his previous life — which isn’t much. What was it like for you to go back before the series began to determine what his personality would be?
It was fun, and the thing is he’s such a messed up character already — they keep jamming new memories into him and jerking him around, I felt kind of bad for him. Part of it was deciding what he was, because he doesn’t know what he is, but he is something. That was part of the fun for me — determining what he is and basing it on everything that had come before, everything that had already been written, and weaving that into something that makes sense so when you read everything, it all works together.
You spoke about giving readers enough answers without revealing everything. Are there other questions that you might want to come back and address later in a future issue?
Oh, yeah — definitely. The character’s great, and issue #0 sets him up in a cool way where it sets up some things, but it leaves me wanting to know more. I’d love to come back to it and flesh out more of that stuff.
Before we wrap up, “MIND MGMT” was optioned for a film recently. What kind of progress has been made so far on it?
They’re finding a screenwriter — they’re looking around for a new screenwriter that can handle it. Other than that, Ridley Scott’s awesome. They get the book. I walked them through it and gave them an outline for the whole series. It has a beginning, middle and end, so I made sure they knew where I was going with it. I don’t know if you can tell from the first six to eight issues exactly what I’m doing yet, but there is a plan. I wanted to make sure they knew what I was doing so that when they start doing the movie, they’ll at least get to choose to stick with what I’m doing, or do something else. They’ll at least have a choice instead of trying to guess at what I’m doing!
“Bloodshot” #0 hits stores in August.