What do you get when an espionage book isn't an espionage book? In the case of "Bloodshot" #2 from Duane Swierczynski, Manuel Garcia, Arturo Lozzi, and Matt Ryan, it's a mix of military men and modern horror. And in the case of "Bloodshot," that mixture is a downright success.
"Bloodshot" #2 picks up right where the first issue left off; our title character in the hands of the military after having briefly tasted freedom. From here we get an outright escape attempt, but it's not of the normal variety. Instead we're getting a Bloodshot haunted by figures that aren't real, and that's when "Bloodshot" in general begins to take a turn for the more interesting. Up until now, the virtual world of "Bloodshot" was little more than a carrot to be pulled away from the main character, a glimpse at the normal life that he'd lost. Now it's become something much more substantial to the plot, a driving force instead of just a mirage.
It would be easy to simply play the ghosts off as hallucinations, too, but Swierczynski goes for something more interesting than that. By feeding Bloodshot information about himself that he consciously doesn't know, it gives them a direct line into the overall story. They're a creepy spirit guide of sorts, and that's before we even get to the moment where Bloodshot learns just what he needs to do in order to be able to regenerate. That's where the series gets another shot in the arm and starts to veer more into horror territory. This is hardly an ideal life for anyone, and then some.
Garcia and Lozzi's pencils look good here. Garcia draws most of the book, which tackles the break-out scene in a way that moves swiftly and violently; lots of short, horizontal panels that allow the fighting to accelerate quickly in just a couple of pages. By the time he's done attacking soldiers and in an awkward, almost frantic hunch around their bodies, you can almost hear Bloodshot's heavy breathing as he re-orients himself. Lozzi tackles the virtual reality world, and his slick, glossy art serves as a great contrast to the bumpy, textured real world that Garcia serves up. I like having a separate artist handle those other pages for an instant visual flag, and the duo handle it well.
I enjoyed the first issue of "Bloodshot," but "Bloodshot" #2 cranked up the intensity and the interest level rapidly. This is exactly what the series needed for a second issue to keep readers around for a while. If Swierczynski, Garcia, and Lozzi keep up the horror nature of the series, I'll be sticking around, absolutely.