Bloodshot has gone through a number of different changes since Valiant Entertainment relaunched in 2012. Starting off with his own solo title, which later evolved into "Bloodshot and the H.A.R.D. Corps," the character has always been a soldier that meant to follow orders -- but all that may be about to change. By the end of Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt and Paolo Rivera's "The Valiant," something dramatic is set to happen to Bloodshot that will cause him to withdraw from society -- and that's where Lemire and artist Mico Suayan pick up with "Bloodshot Reborn," a new ongoing series set to debut April 2015.
CBR spoke exclusively with Lemire about taking on "Bloodshot Reborn" -- and while the writer couldn't reveal much about the actual plot of the book, he did discuss the status of the character when the series opens, how it differs from previous stories involving Bloodshot, and why the series may be "some of, if not the best work" he's ever done.
CBR News: Jeff, I know you can't say much about what's happening in your upcoming "Bloodshot Reborn" series, but what's the status of the character when the issue opens?
Jeff Lemire: Without getting into specifics, at the end of "The Valiant," something very dramatic happens to Bloodshot. It completely and utterly alters his life, and everything we know and everything we've ever seen of Bloodshot is really turned inside out. We pick up a few months after the events of "The Valiant" and Bloodshot is withdrawn from society. He's living as a drifter trying to make some sense of what's happening, what he is and what he was and what he can still be. That's where we pick up -- it's a character that's really been taken down to the bone, and then I'm going to take him down even further. [Laughs]
Talk a little bit about the structure of the story and the concept. How is this story different than some of the other Bloodshot stories that have been told in the past?
I can honestly say that I've read every Bloodshot comic published now, and this Bloodshot story is unlike any that's every been published. It really does turn the character inside out, and I think it's time for that. Reading the character, all the stuff from the original Valiant and so far since the Valiant relaunch, I felt it was time for a major shift in the character. They'd taken him to the Harbinger Wars, and what Josh Dysart and Christos Gage did with him in "Bloodshot and the H.A.R.D. Corps" and Project Rising Spirit. I thought they'd taken the character as far as it could go in its current state, and there needed to be a big shake-up. There are also some things I was interested in doing with the character and some elements I was interested in bringing in. Really, this story -- it's really tough to discuss -- but it's very different than anything that's ever been done with Bloodshot and I can honestly say it's very different than anything I've ever written before as well. It's unlike any of my other projects. There's a real noir sense to it, it's dark, there's some black humor for sure. There's a surreal element to it -- it's a pretty wild book. I've got to give credit to [Valiant Editor-in-Chief] Warren [Simons], he's really letting me go for it. [Laughs] I'm taking some chances on this one and, so far, I think the results have been really good.
You've gotten some experience writing the character already in "The Valiant." How did your work on "The Valiant" help you develop your take on the character in "Bloodshot Reborn?"
You know, to be completely honest, I knew before we even started doing "The Valiant" that I would be doing "Bloodshot" afterward. It was part of our initial discussions. So, I went into "The Valiant" knowing where I wanted to start with Bloodshot, and purposefully helping to craft a story that would allow me to get to that starting point by the end of "The Valiant." It was really all one big project in a lot of ways. Of course, working with Matt Kindt to help shape my ideas and get everything where we wanted it to be for the ongoing series -- we also didn't want "The Valiant" to suffer in a way that "The Valiant" is just an excuse to set something else up. I think we really do tell a great Bloodshot story as part of "The Valiant," one that will reward fans of the character. Then, at the end, we really do something kind of nutty and set up something new for him. It's pretty cool. I think nobody's going to see it coming, for sure.
This is your first solo book for Valiant with one of its flagship characters -- one that you previously said you really enjoy writing. Going in, what do you see as your biggest challenge in taking on the character in a new series?
I think Bloodshot can very easily become a two-dimensional character. If you're not careful, he can very easily become very stereotypical, very prototypical tough guy action hero. I wasn't really interested in that because after one or two fun stories with that character, it kind of gets stale. I knew I needed to add some new layers to him, so that was really my biggest thing: how to take what can be a very two-dimensional character and add enough to him that I could hopefully tell stories with him for a long time. Add a lot of complications and a lot of layers -- that's the one thing I was kind of aware of: if written badly, he can be a two-dimensional character.
Why do you think the character has endured throughout the years, and managed to see a resurgence in popularity in the modern era?
He's a neat character. Going back to that last question, where I said he could very easily be a two-dimensional character, tough guy, shoot-em-up, '80s action character -- what really makes him unique and what makes him work is that extra element beyond that. That's the whole concept behind Bloodshot, of course, is that he's a man without a past. Whatever the government did to him to give him the nanites and powers also wiped out his memory. To me, that's the most compelling aspect: not only who he is, but this constant ghost that follows him around of who he was. He can't quite see it -- he gets glimpses of it, but he can't quite grasp it. That element of the past makes him extremely compelling, and extremely sympathetic as well.
Just on a purely visceral level, the design of the character is so brilliant. It's one of the best looking character designs of the '90s. It's so simple and iconic and can survive a lot of different interpretations. I think there are a lot of different things that go in to making him popular. You know, there's a lot of ways you can look at the Punisher and Wolverine -- and there are elements of all those characters that are done really well with Bloodshot. He can stand up with those characters -- he's a very cool character.
Staying on that track, how does "Bloodshot Reborn" continue the character's continuous evolution?
When I'm done with this first storyline, he will be very different in a lot of ways than he has been, without losing those core concepts that I just discussed. I'm not going to completely make him unrecognizable. He's still going to be Bloodshot, there's just going to be a lot more added to him. A lot of that deals with things with the past and history and memories -- that's not to say he's going to get all his memories back. That's what the story's about. To me, the book is about identity; the character is about identity, the man without one. He's always been without one, his only identity has been to be a killer, really, and even then, following other people's orders. What happens when you're free from that? A man who's never had free will of his own and he suddenly has complete freedom, it just cripples him because he doesn't know what to do and he has guilt over what he's been. Both those things are very compelling and those are what I'm playing with.
I got a chance to take a look at one of Mico Suayan's two-page spreads and it's absolutely gorgeous.
Holy God. His heart on this is going to turn some heads, man. I know which one you probably saw, and I swear the whole book looks like that. He's killing it. I got pages back and they're jaw-dropping. The amount of detail and the amount of pathos and the realism he brings -- because it is a very gritty, noir, really grounded type of book. His style is just bringing it to life. He's been amazing to work with, and he's an artist that really puts his heart and soul into every panel. It's one of the best looking comics I've ever been a part of, for sure. Between him and Paolo [Rivera], I've been really spoiled at Valiant.
What's been the most enjoyable aspect for you about putting "Bloodshot Reborn" together?
It's weird -- I've got to say, when I sit down to write Bloodshot, I look forward to it. It's almost like I get all my other projects out of the way so I can just sit down and enjoy writing this book. I don't even know if I want to pinpoint what's so enjoyable about it because I might start ruining it, but there's something very dark and visceral about writing this book, and it's taken me some very interesting places I've never been to as a writer. Again, sometimes you don't want to analyze that while you're in the middle of it. I'm going somewhere I've never been before as a writer and a creator. It's not retreading any of my old themes -- it's uncharted territory for me, and it's kind of scary. There's something about it that's thrilling. Hopefully, it's going to end up on the page. It really feels like so far the Bloodshot scripts I've done on top of Mico's work that this is some of, if not the best, work I've done.
I've also heard you'll be doing some artistic contributions yourself on the book.
I can't tell you [any details] because it's a big part of the first issue and a huge twist in the first issue that will be an ongoing element of the story. I will be working with Mico contributing art to the book -- not just variant covers, but actual interior art along with his. As you can imagine, his ultra realistic amazing draftsmanship combined with my really shitty drawings is really great. [Laughs] Just kidding -- but not really. It's really funny -- our two styles couldn't be more different and the contrast on the page is pretty fun.
"Bloodshot Reborn" #1 hits stores April 2015