Bloodshot Salvation #9 takes a break from the ongoing narrative to tell a one-off story about everyone’s favorite weaponized dog, Bloodhound.
The issue is written by Ray Fawkes with Jeff Lemire, drawn/colored by Renato Guedes, and lettered by Simon Bowland.
The story takes place entirely on September 24, 1916, during World War I on the Morval Ridge in France. (History buffs may notice that this is just one day before the Battle of Morval began.) During a standstill between British and German forces, Doctor Henry Fulbright has arrived at the front with something to help the Brits secure the line: dogs. Dogs who have been modified to be perfect soldiers. They can withstand gas attacks and feel no pain. They can see in darkness. If injured, they can be rebuilt. They have no fear.
In telling the origin of Bloodhound, Fawkes and Lemire are telling the origin of the Bloodshot program as a whole. They’re expanding the mythology of the character, and giving it an interesting twist. Readers have always viewed Bloodshot’s “makers” as the villains of his story. But in Doctor Fulbright, we see a man with noble intentions. War has cost him a lot; he just wants to keep others from losing anything more. As he says, “I’m no warrior, but I do have the ability to help win the conflict and end the terrible cost.” That’s superhero logic. With great power comes great responsibility.
Lemire has been adding layers to Bloodshot’s story for years, and in this issue we just get another layer.
We also get a brutal and gritty portrayal of war. We see the meaningless cycle of violence and the numbing effect it has on soldiers. Again, seeing these things firsthand adds a strange sense of understanding as to why the Bloodshot Program was created in the first place. But we also see the effect of war on people like Doctor Fulbright, the optimists and those who want to do good. It’s a sad and complex story, like most war stories, which leaves you with a lot to think about after it’s done. The last two pages will especially hit you in the gut. One thing’s for sure: you’ll never look at Bloodhound the same way again.
Renato Guedes is the perfect artist for a war story like this one. His style makes the violence feel real, like you’re looking at photos instead of drawings. The coloring is again the best aspect; blood has never looked so palpable in a comic. Guedes adds grit and grime to a story that’s already gritty and grimy. This is his last issue on the series (for now), and he clearly put his heart into it.
If you thought you were going to get a filler issue, a little breathing time before “The Book of Revelations” starts, think again. Bloodshot Salvation #9 is a side story, but it’s no less vital to the series overall. It adds depth to Bloodhound and the Bloodshot mythology as a whole, and it’ll punch you in the gut like only this creative team can.