Valiant's most dangerous superhero has something new to fight for
After being injected with nanite technology by Project Rising Spirit, Ray Garrison became Bloodshot, an indestructible living weapon with pale skin and red eyes. For most of his fictional life as a Valiant Entertainment superhero, Bloodshot has been fighting government spooks and going on dangerous special missions — not too different from a lot of the indestructible, violence-prone antiheroes in ’90s superhero comics.
But then Jeff Lemire took over.
Starting with the 2014 event miniseries The Valiant, Lemire took away Bloodshot’s all-powerful nanites. Then, in Bloodshot Reborn, Bloodshot pieced himself back together with the help of a woman named Magic, before Bloodshot U.S.A. united Garrison with a team of past Bloodshots from history. In his next Bloodshot series, Lemire throws in a new twist for the world’s greatest killer: a daughter.
This September will see the launch of Bloodshot Salvation, the latest chapter in Lemire’s Bloodshot saga. The story will be split into two different timelines: the present, in which Bloodshot has retired from violence after learning his girlfriend Magic is pregnant; and the near future, in which Magic is trying to raise and protect their powerful young daughter, Jessie, while Bloodshot is nowhere to be found. Fans of Logan might find an echo of X-23 in Jessie, who so far seems to have inherited some of her dad’s ferocious fighting skills.
Like Lemire’s previous Bloodshot series, Bloodshot Salvation will be illustrated by artists Lewis Larosa and Mico Suayan. The first issue hits stores in September, but for now, you can check out an exclusive preview below, along with EW’s interview with Lemire about his plans for the new series.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’ve been writing Bloodshot for a while now. How does this fit into that greater story, and how approachable is it for interested new readers?
JEFF LEMIRE: It’s interesting, the evolution of the series. A few years ago I pitched [Valiant editor-in-chief] Warren Simons a two-year plan on Bloodshot, a 24-issue storyline. That storyline was pretty much what I did from The Valiant through Bloodshot U.S.A. In my mind, that was going to be the end of my run with the character. I executed the plan the way I wanted to and told the story the way I wanted, so I thought I was done with the character. Then a few months went by, and I kept getting new story ideas. I had spent a lot of time building out Bloodshot’s mythology and his supporting cast, and when you do that, you get invested in it, so I just felt like I had more stories to tell. So it builds off everything we did, but I also wanted Bloodshot Salvation to be truly the next chapter, taking the character in a new direction … like a new chapter that a new reader could pick up. By the end of the first issue, you have a sense of who the character is and what’s happening.
The first thing you did with Bloodshot was take away his nanites. How else do you approach the challenge of making such an indestructible character feel vulnerable?
That’s the challenge of writing any superhero. These characters are all so powerful, you have to find ways to make them human. To be honest, when I took on Bloodshot a few years ago, I didn’t like the character very much. He felt like a two-dimensional ultraviolent antihero, and that didn’t appeal to me in any way. I tried to find the human side of the machine by stripping him down and building him back again. It wasn’t about making him vulnerable physically as it was about getting to know the emotional care of the guy, giving him more than his powers and what he does on missions. I wanted to make him a human being, and once you do that, it adds a side of vulnerability. In the new series, he takes on a new role as a father/parent. As soon as that happens to anyone, you’re immediately vulnerable because you’re no longer looking out for yourself, you’re looking out for your family. All this craziness and violence that surrounds him as Bloodshot is now a threat to them. He’s a danger to his family, and that’s something I’ll explore as the series goes on.
I love how Magic and Bloodshot seemed to connect so randomly. Can you talk about what she means to him and what role she’ll be playing in the new series?
You’ll really see Magic’s character change over the course of the series. A lot of things are gonna happen. We’re gonna shine a spotlight on her family; her past is gonna be a part of the first arc. She’s a mom, now, herself, and she has this daughter to protect as well, so we’re gonna see her change and evolve. Looking back on what’s happened, I think it’s really interesting Ray and Magic came together out of happenstance, but they had this immediate connection. What I love about both those characters is they were these two incredibly damaged people who on their own would probably self-destruct but somehow together they kept each other just this side of losing it completely. Together they worked, and I loved that. It’s a kind of romantic idea, but I felt it worked with what I was doing. Now we’re gonna see that relationship go to another level. Now they’re gonna be parents and see how that changes them, as it always does.
What can you tease about Magic and Bloodshot’s new daughter, Jessie, and the role she’ll play in Salvation?
Jessie is the daughter of Magic and Bloodshot. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that she’s clearly taking after her father a little bit. She’s a huge part of the series. She’s the central thing that ties everything together. But I think it’s better to have her be a mystery and let readers discover her through the story. She’s not going anywhere; she’s gonna be a major part of the universe going forward. She’s not just some gimmick.
The setup of Bloodshot and his daughter kind of reminds me of Logan or Lone Wolf and Cub with the team-up of a weathered veteran warrior and an innocent child. How will you be playing with that archetype?
I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s something I really latched onto and explored pretty extensively with my Vertigo series Sweet Tooth. It had this similar dynamic of a grizzled man of violence and a young child, the juxtaposition of youth/innocence/optimism and then the opposite of that, someone who’s been hardened by life and is now pessimistic about their outlook on the world. You then start to see those worldviews influence each other as they go on a journey together, where the child becomes more hardened while his innocence reawakens some humanity in the older character. I’ve always loved that emotional journey and arc. That’s not to say that’s exactly what will happen in Salvation, though. Bloodshot and his daughter may not be together as much as they like, so we’ll probably see something more like Sarah Connor with Magic and her daughter. Bloodshot’s kind of on a different journey.
What will the level of violence be in Salvation, and how do you strike that balance between violence for violence’s sake and making it compelling?
Violence has been a big theme in what I’ve been doing with Bloodshot from the beginning. I tried to subvert that ’90s action hero archetype and make the violence have real weight and meaning and be something that’s very ugly that affects people’s lives. I’ve tried to play with that and have the book speak out against violence. What we’ll see in Salvation is there are extremely violent moments, but the way I’ve set the character up now, that violence always has a cost and always has meaning. It’s never done for shock value; if anything, it can be very traumatic to the characters involved. So we’ll continue trying to make the violence resonate and have an emotional impact and not just be mindless cartoony violence.
Bloodshot Salvation feels similar to the contemporaneous relaunches for other major Valiant heroes like XO-Manowar and Ninjak. Can you talk about how this book will fit into the greater Valiant universe?
I like working at Valiant because in relation to the other shared universe, it’s relatively new and small. This story is definitely happening in the same world as Ninjak and XO-Manowar, but it’s not very burdened by continuity. You’re not beholden to 50 years of history just to understand what characters are saying in a conversation. This is a Bloodshot story at its heart, but we’ll see other elements. Three characters from other books will play big roles and have a fun place in the story as well.