Interview: Duane Swierczynski Injects Life Into the new "Bloodshot" at Valiant

The Valiant relaunch keeps on chugging along, from sold-out copies of the first issue of X-O Manowar to a reborn Harbinger series. While X-O was the cornerstone of the (then) modern Valiant U's nexus of action and extraterrestrial sci-fi, and Harbinger explored the evolution of humanity, Bloodshot gave rise to the fusion of man and machine in that universe, ultimately spurring on the "Blood of Heroes" which would later power characters like Rai (yeah, I know Rai predates Bloodshot, but continuity-wise... look, let's move on).

Now writer Duane Swierczynski has taken the reins on a new series featuring the character's reintroduction to readers after a decade and some change out of the public eye. Is it a tale of military intrigues gone wrong? A hitman at the wrong place or the wrong time? Swierczynski's not giving much away as Raymond Garrison (or is it Angelo Mortalli) becomes a weapon of war—or something else entirely—in Bloodshot #1 on sale in July.

MTV Geek: How did you come aboard the book? What attracted you to the character?

Duane Swierczynski: If you had wandered by the outdoor seating area of a certain Thai restaurant at last summer’s San Diego Comic-Con, you could have eavesdropped on [Executive Editor] Warren Simons and I starting to hatch the whole thing, riffing and giggling like maniacs. Come to think of it, Rob Liefeld wandered by, and much later, via Twitter, told me he thought we were up to no good… Anyway, I worked with Warren on a few comics at Marvel—the post-Brubaker/Fraction run on Immortal Iron Fist, a Werewolf By Night MAX mini-series, and was eager to work with him again. After he joined Valiant, I was pretty much all over him like chiffon on a bridesmaid.

Why Bloodshot? Geez, why not Bloodshot? He’s only my favorite kind of literary character: a tortured soul who endures stunning amount of violence—mental and physical—while struggling to do the right thing.

Geek: From the solicitation, it seems like you’ve ramped up the paranoia with regards to the character’s identity and even what kind of information he’s got in his head. What was the genesis of this approach?

Swierczynski: I love paranoid, amnesia-type noir stories. I’m approaching Bloodshot as writer David Goodis might have: Start with a guy struggling to overcome a checkered past… and then dump whole boxes full of checkers on the poor bastard. In Bloodshot’s case, he can’t even remember his past—and the very things that can help him solve the mystery of his life would send most people to a rubber room in 10 seconds flat. I know that sounds weird and vague, but you’ll see exactly what I mean when they show up toward the end of issue #1.

Geek: Along the same lines, this is a character who technology hasn’t yet caught up to, but has maybe a bit more plausibility (relative to the other Valiant characters, at least) in terms of human/tech interaction. What were some of the points of inspiration for you in terms of melding man and (nano) machine with Bloodshot?

Swierczynski: Military drones were a touchstone for me. The idea that a pair of guys can sit in a trailer in Nevada and operate this flying robot death machine halfway around the world is a frightening one. Even worse, though is when you start to ask: Where can it go from here? Bloodshot is one possible answer to that question.

Geek: Who are some of the supporting cast or maybe antagonists that you might be able to talk about?

Swierczynski: Part of the fun of an amnesia story like is discovering the characters right alongside our hero—so I don’t want to give too much away. But be prepared to meet a scientist who doesn’t mind sawing off the top of a man’s skull to get the answers he needs. Or a young boy who doesn’t mind leading unsuspecting people to their bullet-ridden deaths. (Bloodshot: Thrilling Adventure Stories For the Whole Family!)

Geek: We’ve started to see more and more of the Valiant Universe take shape in the last couple of months through the solicits. To what extent are you playing around in the larger sandbox of characters from the other books at this point?

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Swierczynski: Right from page one, in fact. Er… wait, page two. Definitely page two. Again, I can’t say too much, but I’m keenly aware that Bloodshot’s story in unfolding in a world populated by other Valiant characters, and they impact his life in a huge way.

Geek: Finally, five words: use them to tease out your favorite parts of your Bloodshot relaunch?

Swierczynski: Man, I hate five word ques-

(See? I’ve already run out of words!)

Okay, okay. How about:

Family

Duty

Memory

Science

Blood

(You don’t know how tempted I was to throw in something like, “pumpernickel.”)

Bloodshot #1 is coming from Valiant July 11th/

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