Youngblood #1

Written by: Chad Bowers

Art by: Jim Towe and Juan Manuel Rodriguez

Published by: Image Comics

People love to hate on Rob Liefeld’s art but….fuck you people.  I love Rob.  Loved him since Hawk & Dove.  Bought issue after issue of New Mutants.  Bought like 36 copies of X-Force #1.  If you were collecting comics during this time period then guess what?  You bought issue after issue of New Mutants and 36 copies of X-Force #1 too.  Should have bought 36 copies of X-Force #2, huh?  DEADPOOL!

Me?  I never jumped off the Liefeld bandwagon.  When he and his crew formed Image?  I was such the fanboy.  I bought every single Image comic I could get my grubby little hands on especially the Extreme books.  Brigade, Bloodstrike, Prophet, Supreme, and, of course, Youngblood.  Those guys really created a style that would permeate the nineties.  They would also change the course of comics forever.

I really dug the Youngblood series and bought most of those early books (like Team Youngblood and the various spinoff books).  Eventually I phased myself out of comic collecting and when I returned I was a bit more picky with my spending money.  I never really went back to Youngblood even though there have been many iterations since that first four issue miniseries.  I do remember picking up the Alan Moore Youngblood series…but it didn’t last very long, did it?  Shame.  That Judgment Day mini he did was phenom.

I’m not quite sure what drew me to the new Youngblood #1.  It isn’t written or drawn by Rob (though he did do a bonus story).  In reading the book there are characters that are familiar to me but most of the plot seems to revolve around some “rent a hero” plotline which includes a missing hero kid.

There seems to be an app.  You need a hero?  Log into the app and, BAM, get your hero.  Man-Up is a hero using said app but suddenly the kid disappears.  No one seems to care except Petra AKA Gunner.  As she’s fighting crime she’s also on the hunt for Man-Up, trying to find out what the hell happened to him.

The story shifts gears and we learn that Youngblood itself is nothing but a memory.  Diehard is now…the President of the United States?  And Vogue is his first lady?  Geez…I must have must a lot of Youngblood!  President Diehard isn’t liking these kid vigilantes duking it out on the streets so he decides to send in some muscle to take care of them.

The muscle?  Turns out it is Shaft…who is in jail.  And out comes good old Badrock as well.  What the hell?  Why is Shaft….the former LEADER of Youngblood in jail?  Why is Badrock all locked up?  Guess he’s not that same little kid anymore either.

And so off they go and they meet up with other members of Youngblood (from later iterations if I remember right) as everything comes to a head. I won’t break the issue down in full…let’s just say we get to an amazing action sequence.

So what gives??????

I’m not sure if I am missing something because I haven’t read the past couple years of Youngblood or if writer Chad Bowers just decided to do a whole bunch of messing with the entire Youngblood concept.  Whatever is the case I will say that it is an intriguing first issue.  The ish is all over the place but that is only because Bowers is trying to get a ton of plot moving with very limited pages.  Many comics these days like to take their time.  Single issues don’t tell a story because writers these days like to think in story arcs.  Now this issue is part of an arc I’m sure but Bowers jampacks this first issue with as much as he can.  For this I stand up and applaud the man.

Liefeld himself isn’t left out of the fun.  He has a page that he just talks about the first origins of Youngblood going back to drawing the characters when he was a kid and how those first initial Youngblood pages landed him his first gigs in the comic industry (though he does leave out Youngblood’s pinup from Megaton Explosion).  It is a great story looking back at the beginnings of a great artist starting his career and how everything came full circle for him.

As I mentioned there is a very short four page story that Rob both writes and draws.  I’m not sure what the story is actually about but I’m figuring it fits into the overall story somehow.  This is where my patience needs to kick in.  This is probably what the kids today are calling “foreshadowing.”  Still – seeing Rob draw Badrock again brings a big damn smile onto my face.

I had a good time with the latest Youngblood relaunch and thought it was a very good time.  I really liked the story and the pacing of the book.  Artist Jim Towe does an amazing job bringing the book to life.  His artwork looks vaguely familiar so I’m not sure if it’s another book that he’s drawn that I recognize him from or if he just has a similar style to someone that I can’t place.  Either way the artwork rocks.  His Badrock REALLY rocks.  There was also no need to reboot with a female Shaft or a Spanish Vogue.  I love that companies like Image are able to create new female or ethnic heroes without having to rebrand all of their 25 year old heroes.  Just sayin’.

This first issue did wet my appetite.  I’m ready for more.  Much more.  I’m damn happy Youngblood is back and this issue proves that the world is better with Youngblood in it.

RANK: A-