Bloodshot has filled a role at Valiant Entertainment as the sometimes-stereotypical ultra-violent action hero - but now, writer Jeff Lemire is turning that onto its head.
Launching October 26, Bloodshot U.S.A. is a standalone event in which the titular pale-skinned soldier must save New York City from a weaponized, nanotech version of the same Project: Rising Spirit creation that made him. So one Bloodshot against millions of microscopic, weaponized Bloodshot nanites, that can turn anyone and everyone into an all-new Bloodshot.
It's deeper than your garden variety action movie according to Lemire, who calls it a "subversive" take on the genre, as well as a critique on "America’s obsession with violence and guns."
Lemire spoke with Newsarama about this loaded four-issue event, working with former Captain America artist Doug Braithwaite, and also his take on Sony's upcoming Bloodshot movie, which is based on his run.
Newsarama: Jeff, so is this a kindler, gentler Bloodshot? Tell fans what they need to know about this latest incarnation of Valiant's Bloodshot title?
Jeff Lemire: Bloodshot U.S.A. is the culmination of all the stories I've told in the Bloodshot Reborn series so far. It’s what everything has been building to. But, it is also a standalone event, so I wrote it in a way that new readers can jump in and immediately get into the story without having to have read any Bloodshot issues before.
Project: Rising Spirit is a government paramilitary organization. They created Bloodshot and all his predecessors by using advanced nano-technology and creating super soldiers that they control. Now they are free from that control, but PRS has released the nano-tech into the population of Manhattan, turning thousands of innocents into mindless killing machines that they control... and it’s spreading. So, Bloodshot and his allies must find a way to stop it and save these people without hurting them.
Believe it or not, Bloodshot U.S.A. is also a love story.
Nrama: We’ll get to that – but first, just to confirm: Bloodshot Reborn ends, seguing to Bloodshot U.S.A.?
Lemire: Bloodshot Reborn will end with issue #18 in October, which acts as a prologue to Bloodshot U.S.A. Then, Bloodshot U.S.A. takes over. When this story is done... well, you'll have to wait and see.
Nrama: This airborne nanite Bloodshot swarm seems, forgive me, a killer idea. How did this idea come about?
Lemire: It just sort of grew naturally out of the stories I have been telling in Bloodshot Reborn up to this point. It seems the like natural progression and amplification of what I'd been setting up and doing all along. Warren Simons, Valiant’s Editor-In-Chief, embraced the idea and I just leaned into it.
Since the beginning, I've tried to subvert the traditional action hero stories that Bloodshot had been known for. I’ve also used the character and the series to comment on violence and gun culture in America. So, out of that I got this idea of a mob of killing machines that were literally infected by violence. But Bloodshot can't use violence to stop them, since they are really just innocent people who are infected. It seemed to set up an interesting dynamic and an interesting metaphor for the times we live in.
Nrama: Why and how do the nanites get to be released into New York City?
Lemire: I can't spoil that!
Nrama: Can’t blame me for asking. But this won’t come out until after New York Comic Con, so those attendees are safe.
What about Valiant’s offices, however? They’re right in the thick of New York City.
Lemire: [Laughs] Actually, all of the Valiant staff are in Bloodshot Reborn #18, also out in October. So good question! But, they do not appear in the way you suggest. The Valiant staff appear as the World War II Bloodshot's platoon in a flashback.
Nrama: I particularly look forward to seeing Dinesh in full-gear.
Getting back on topic a bit, this new book Bloodshot U.S.A. - is there something especially patriotic, or relating to America, you're doing for this miniseries?
Lemire: As I said above, I've been using Bloodshot as a way of turning the ultra-violent action hero inside out and as a way to comment on America’s obsession with violence and guns. So, the title is a bit more subversive than it is patriotic. And I'm a Canadian as well.
Nrama: Canada’s part of America in the geographic sense.
Speaking of creators outside the U.S., you’re on this with artist Doug Braithwaite, who hails from Britain. I first learned about his work from Captain America, but I’d have to say he’s relatively under-the-radar, but especially apt for this kind of story. Why do you think he’s right for Bloodshot U.S.A.?
Lemire: Doug is very under the radar, I agree. He is sensational. Absolutely amazing. I have been lucky enough to work with him twice before this on Book of Death: The Fall of Bloodshot, and 4001 A.D.: Bloodshot. And I think both of those turned out to be two of the best stories in the run so far. Doug brings big, widescreen storytelling, but also nuance and attention to character and emotion. He is the perfect choice for this, and I am very lucky to be working with him. Colorist Brian Reber is also a perfect fit with Doug.
Nrama: This series is coming just as new talk has arisen about Sony’s Bloodshot movie. It’s been said the movie is based roughly on your Bloodshot issues. Are you involved in any of that? If not, can you say what you think about a Bloodshot movie and if you have a certain storyarc in mind that you personally think would be an ideal basis for a story?
Lemire: I probably should not say this, but I am actually playing Bloodshot in the film. I have been working out six times a day, and I've also been bleaching my skin in preparation.
Nrama: And I’ll leave that visual image with readers to end the story. Thanks, Jeff!