Review by C.J. Bunce
You still have a month before visual effects artist-turned director Dave Wilson’s Bloodshot movie arrives as the next cyborg superhero from Valiant Comics to hit the big screen. But if you want to get a jump on your friends, there’s Bloodshot: The Official Movie Novelization, just released from Titan Books, a great read for fans of all things borg. Readers will be pulled inside the story of Ray Garrison, a slain special ops Marine, who is resurrected thanks to Dr. Emil Harting, a (mad?) scientist who is perfecting his use of nanotechnology and cybernetics to create an unstoppable squad of super-soldiers. Written by Gavin Smith and based on the Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer screenplay, Bloodshot creates the next step in the evolution of cybernetic technology stories that began with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, mixing the rage of The Punisher with the impact on the human psyche and dehumanization of turning from man to cyborg, as we’ve seen in stories like RoboCop (who was inspired by Judge Dredd and Marvel’s Rom).
As for the comics in film, Bloodshot is poised to stack up neatly beside the lab-created Hulk, the merger of body and “something else” of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, the mission and science of Captain America, Wolverine, and Deadpool, the determination of Cable, and it’s a fitting follow-up to the half-man/half-monster movie, Venom. That’s a lot of Marvel characters with similar struggles, and there are certainly more, characters with the same vintage of origin story–an unlikely or involuntary super-soldier–so how do you spin this key comics trope in a fresh, new way? As Smith, Wadlow, and Heisserer have done it, you go back to the human condition, and look to what has come before. Bloodshot isn’t from Marvel, but indie publisher Valiant, but it’s sourced in a common creative mindset.
Bloodshot reads much like Martin Caidin’s original story of the first modern cyborg in his novel Cyborg, about Steve Austin, the Bionic Man–the Six Million Dollar Man–a military hero brought to death’s door and back via science. In many ways Bloodshot–the program that pulls in the story’s hero and becomes the name of his new persona–is an update to Cyborg–what you could imagine the Bionic Man reboot with Mark Wahlberg to be like. And it pulls in good mind-twisting sci-fi elements evoking Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse and Duncan Jones’ Source Code.
The action in the novelization is promising, foreseeing an action-heavy film like Ryan Reynolds’ 6 Underground. Smith nicely re-creates both the backtrack effect and the regeneration effect that repairs Bloodshot after battle, both as seen in the film’s movie trailer. And speaking of the trailer, fans will appreciate that trailer gives nothing away of the last two-thirds of the film. It’s easy to read the dialogue of Bloodshot in Vin Diesel’s voice and of the only woman in the squad, called KT, in the voice of Eiza González, who plays the character in the movie. She is quickly becoming the next leading woman action star after her roles in Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw, Alita: Battle Angel, Baby Driver, From Dusk Till Dawn (and… Plaza Sésamo!) and her character in this story is well-developed.
The villainy in the novelization may be even more a creature of the Marvel world, via Sony or Disney, than the story’s hero. Think of Dr. Harting as a different flavor of the scientist Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket in Ant-Man, Dr. Foster in Ant-Man and The Wasp, Dr. Rice in Logan, Colonel Stryker in Deadpool, Dr. Noah Burstein in Marvel’s Luke Cage, and especially and oddly enough Aldrich Killian, the scientist in Iron Man 3, played by Guy Pearce, who plays Harting in the Bloodshot movie. And the entire team has that vibe of cyborg villainy straight out of the bad guy team-up in last year’s James Cameron cyborg movie creation Alita: Battle Angel.
Bloodshot is a very cyborg story, a very sci-fi story, a very military story, and ultimately a very Marvel-inspired superhero story. It would be easy to see a team-up of Bloodshot, Cable, and The Punisher, and maybe even Blade, down the road in the Marvel universe of the big or small screen, if only someone would make that deal happen.
Bloodshot: The Official Movie Novelization is available now in advance of the movie’s release in a paperback edition. It’s a fun read, and includes an extra short story featuring the characters KT and Dr. Harting. Get it now here at Amazon.