Saturday afternoon at WonderCon in Anaheim, California, Valiant Entertainment announced that its series Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps would be ending with June’s #23; they’re not going out with a whimper however, but a bang.
In the final arc of Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps, the two sides of the title will face-off in a story-arc aptly titled “Bloodshot vs. H.A.R.D. Corps.” Since the series name changed from Bloodshot to its current title, Bloodshot has been blackmailed to work with Project Rising Spirit, the H.A.R.D. Corps’ employer; but now, series co-writer Christos Gage says that the red-and-white commando has found a way out from under P.R.S.’ thumb and is looking for payback.
For this final story, Gage will be joined by writer Duffy Boudreau from Image’s BlackAcre. Boudreau worked with Valiant previously in a short for Shadowman, but now here with series artist Al Barrionuevo he’s getting the unique opportunity to work with Gage and write a finale for this series which has been going since Valiant’s relaunch in 2012.
Newsarama: Christos, Duffy, what is bringing Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps into a face-off between the two?
Christos Gage: Bloodshot has never willingly worked for Project Rising Spirit, the organization that runs H.A.R.D. Corps. First he was brainwashed, and more recently, they had various pieces of leverage over him. But as readers have seen, Bloodshot is a smart dude, and he has been taking steps to remove that leverage. Now it’s gone, and he is free to do what he wants. And what he wants is to kick some ass.
Duffy Boudreau: Like Christos said, it’s been a rough relationship between Bloodshot and his employers at Project Rising Spirit. Things have been ready to explode for some time now, and of course, the supremely confident--arrogant-- Project Rising Spirit leadership is always pushing it. But now they’ve gone and pushed it too far.
Nrama: And what does this mean for Project Rising Spirit?
Gage: I’m gonna go with ass-kicking!
Boudreau: Hundreds of millions in property damage and wrongful death lawsuits. The shareholders are going to be very unhappy. Though I’m sure P.R.S. will find a way to write off its losses.
Gage: It means they need to get Bloodshot back under their thumb, or their most valuable asset will slip through their hands. To do that, they’re calling on their second most valuable asset, H.A.R.D. Corps.
Nrama: What is Major Palmer and the H.A.R.D. Corps thinking about Bloodshot’s actions so far?
Gage: Thus far, he’s been a valued and dependable, if scary, teammate. As to how they’ll feel going up against him, that’s the meat of the story. There’s no reason all the team members will necessarily feel the same way.
Boudreau: This is where I think the guys have done the best work in setting up such a crucial moment of the story. Yes, Bloodshot always has been a valued and dependable teammate--but from H.A.R.D. Corps’ perspective, what’s it like to always feel second best? Always living in the shadow of Project Rising Spirit’s prime asset? All that anger, fear and resentment that’s been festering in certain H.A.R.D. Corps members is now going to explode.
Nrama: Looking into the horse’s mouth so to speak, what is Bloodshot thinking, exactly?
Boudreau: You’ll see as it unfolds. Bloodshot’s obviously fed up with P.R.S as a whole. But in terms of his relationship to some of the individual members of H.A.R.D.Corps, that’s where it gets a bit more complicated...
Gage: I don’t want to give that away entirely, but you can probably imagine he’s not too happy about having been used by Project Rising Spirit this way.
Nrama: Before WonderCon, Valiant announced Bloodshot will be joining Unity in June’s Unity #8 – how do you foresee Bloodshot getting along (or not) with that team given his last team-up, here in Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps, is ending in a fight?
Gage: Bloodshot is a great guy to have on your side in a fight…unless he decides he’s not on your side anymore. But that’s nothing new for Unity, is it?
Nrama: For this final arc, Joshua Dysart is bowing out and you’re being joined by Duffy here from BlackAcre. Can you tell us about working with a new writer on this final arc of Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps?
Gage: I was presented with a wonderful opportunity in the field of television writing, which is something my wife Ruth and I have done before and were excited to do again. I really can’t discuss it any further than that at the moment, but suffice it to say I had to reduce my workload. Fortunately, Warren Simons, Alejandro Arbona and the folks at Valiant were very supportive and accommodating, and they brought in Duffy to take the reins, allowing me to take a step back, yet still have involvement in wrapping up the story we started in Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps #14. I’m very appreciative…I would have understood if Duffy wanted to toss out what I had planned and do his own thing, but pretty much everything I wanted to do is still going to happen, though Duffy will certainly have plenty of room to flex his writer-ly muscles and steer Bloodshot through the end of one chapter of his life to the beginning of the next.
Newsarama: Duffy, people know you from BlackAcre over at Image, but how did you become involved with Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps and Valiant?
Boudreau: Toward the end of last year, Alejandro brought me in to do a short in Shadowman #12. It was a great experience. Since then, I’ve been working with Alejandro and Warren Simons, kicking around ideas for a couple of different titles. Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps was one of these. And since I’d spent all that time developing ideas in that particular world, when I was asked to come in at the end of Christos & Josh’s run, I was ready to go, just jumped at the chance. I get a little nostalgic with Bloodshot because he’s a character who brings me back to my favorite Arnold movies when I was a kid, that trifecta of Total Recall, Terminator, and Commando. He’s got a bit of each of those stories in him, but he’s even cooler because his story’s set in the world of the larger Valiant universe.
Nrama: How long have you been planning this showdown between Bloodshot and Major Palmer’s team – since day one of the series?
Gage: Absolutely. It was always going right to this point. I think if you go back and read the whole run starting when I came aboard, you can see the pieces being put into place.
Nrama: Christos, what's it like bringing this series to a close here?
Gage: It’s great to see this story coming to its fruition, though somewhat bittersweet having to reduce my role right at the big finish. But it’s for a terrific reason, and I can’t say enough good things about the team taking us home. In fact, I want to express my appreciation to everyone who’s worked on the series in the time I’ve been on it. There are too many to name here, but the creative and editorial teams have been amazing, and I can’t thank them enough!
Nrama: What can readers expect for the finale in Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps #23?
Gage: Healthy debate and a respectful exchange of views. Wait, no, I meant all hell breaking loose. Easy to confuse the two.
Boudreau: All hell breaking loose sums it up perfectly. You’ll see a big chapter of Bloodshot’s life coming to an end, a thrilling culmination of what Christos and Josh have been building up to all this time. I feel very lucky to be part of the team here, to come in and help bring it all home.