Advance Review: Bloodshot Salvation #7

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“Master storyteller Jeff Lemire takes the helm for the year’s most terrifying, most memorable special issue – told entirely in PITCH-BLACK DARKNESS!

Deployed into the demonic realm called Deadside in search of a cure for his ailing infant daughter, Bloodshot has lost the one sense he needs most to navigate the land of the dead: his sight. Blinded with only his four-legged ally, Bloodhound, to aid him, Ray Garrison must fight onward as one man against the darkness – even as he is beset from all sides by a horde of inhuman entities that crave only death, suffering, and slaughter…”

It’s hard to understate how excited I was to read this issue (indeed I haven’t #6 yet, but that didn’t stop me from diving in) without resorting to overly enthusiastic hyperbole. The concept of a comic being created entirely in black with minimal art is one that intrigued me significantly, but knowing that Jeff Lemire was going to be writing and drawing it ratchets my anticipation up a little. Okay, so “drawing” may be a stretch as the art is limited to exactly what Bloodshot can see – blackness – and it’s only the creative use of the borders and gutters that give your eye something to look at.

Make no mistake, this stripped down comic is a very ambitious project. Can Lemire carry the story using only words and the creative use of panel lines, or does the comic stumble one time too many?

In terms of the story itself, the review copy didn’t provide any context for why Bloodshot is in the Deadside because it doesn’t really matter in the context of the comic you’ll be reading; just know that he is there, along with Bloodhound and his baby daughter Jessie, and he’s blind. The advantage to this is that because you don’t need to know the whats and whys behind the events of the comic you’re able to appreciate it for exactly what it is (and personally there were no spoilers for the as-yet-unread issue 6 so that was a bonus for me). The story is honestly a very straight forward tale about a man in an unfamiliar situation, and although very well written, would be almost unremarkable in any other medium.

But this is comics, and this comic is remarkable.

In reality the importance of this issue isn’t in the content of the story, as good as it is, but in how Lemire tells it. Bloodshot Salvation #7 is an issue where the sum of what it is, and what it represents, make it worth buying and reading more than the story itself, because as an example of what can be accomplished with how comic books can be used as a  storytelling story telling method. When you read this, spend some time looking at the panel layouts; something as simple as a gutter may be far more significant than it would initially seem – or it might not.

This ambitiously brave comic could easily have fallen flat. After all, you could probably fit all the dialogue and internal thoughts within the issue into a page or two, and so you’re buying what, a comic full of black pages,  a little dialogue and some visual sound effects that combines into one of the most technically impressive comics you’ll ever see.

Whether you’re a fan of Bloodshot, or Valiant, or you’re not,  Bloodshot Salvation #7 is a book you’ll want in your collection as an example of a master craftsman at his very best, producing a seminal work of art that transcends conventional wisdom of what makes a comic work.

Frankly, this is phenomenal.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Jeff Lemire
Story: 8 Art: Uh… Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy a FREE copy for review, but come March I’ll be buying this anyway. At least one copy.

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