Youngblood #1-6

Written by Joe Casey
Art by Derec Donovan
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

Ah, Youngblood. The very first publication of Image Comics back in 1992, Rob Liefeld’s creation is one that has shown up in many different forms and incarnations—but ultimately ones that never quite seemed to last. This latest incarnation is courtesy Joe Casey and Derec Donovan, who are in many ways taking Youngblood back to its original concept. I have to give them credit, too; for the first time that I can remember, that concept seems to have actually shown up in the comic itself.

The United States Government is ready to re-assemble their premiere superhero team, Youngblood. This time, though, it’s going to do more than just fight crime. With a continual media barrage, from reality shows to video games and action figures, Youngblood is anywhere and everywhere. For some members, like Badrock, it’s a dream come true. For others like Shaft, though, it’s actually cause for concern. And the more that Shaft learns about what’s really going on with the latest incarnation of Youngblood, the more he doesn’t like the truth.

I remember those initial interviews with Liefeld about Youngblood and how part of the idea was that this would be a team firmly rooted in the media world; they’d be treated like celebrities, their every move and action tracked by paparazzi and news shows. The actual comic seemed to never really bring that idea together, but Casey clearly hadn’t forgotten that idea. Here, he takes it to the next level; they’re not only continually showing up in the media, but the media is continually being served the members of Youngblood. It makes sense in this day and age; they’d absolutely be farmed out to talk shows and morning programs, just like how recording artists and movie stars get shuffled onto the promotional circuit. There are some scenes in an early issue with two members of the team getting scolded by someone they’ve never met—because it would make a great scene on the reality show and they needed a new villain figure—that sum up the entire process and also Casey’s disdain for it.

At the same time, though, Casey is dishing up a solid story that is also about fighting crime and defeating the bad guy. Sure, the initial villains of Youngblood are ones manufactured by their handlers so that there is a flashy battle to be scene on the television, but Casey isn’t afraid to let the basic set-up slowly change and adapt. So while some members of the team are still stuck in the official, government-sanctioned Youngblood, others have broken off to form their own team that is actually doing some good. It’s a nice mix between the two; a little something for everyone to enjoy, and it keeps the book from feeling stale or played out. I appreciate that it didn’t take some characters long to figure out that something was up (if they were all still in the dark they’d just look like idiots at this point), and the end result is a fun little story.

Donovan’s art improves from issue to issue; he’s getting quite good at using his slightly cartoonish style to have just a touch of reality about it, which is important for a book that has its characters meeting up with Oprah Winfrey or Larry King. There’s also a sense of grace about the characters; they move and slide across the page rather easily, and it makes the action sequences easy to follow and comprehend. Donovan’s art style is about as far from Liefeld’s original Youngblood art, but the more I see of Donovan’s finished pages the more convinced I am that he was the right choice to draw the book.

Youngblood is a fun book; not since Alan Moore’s short-lived revival of the title has Youngblood actually appealed to me enough to pick up issues and keep reading. Some of the characters still seem a bit of a cipher—especially Cougar, who having never appeared in Moore’s version of the book feels like a bit of a blank slate to me—but Casey’s done a good enough job with characters like Shaft that I’m certainly willing to stick around and see what he does with the rest of the characters. Add in great concepts like the Televillain (who can not only jump through television signals, but actually alter reality by transmitting himself into archive television footgate) and there’s a lot of good stuff going on here. It’s a fun book, and it’s nice to see Youngblood finally fulfill that promise we got back in 1992.

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1 comment to Youngblood #1-6

  • Andrew

    I Love this Comicbook. The newest Run has brought Shaft into the roll he always had. Rebeling against a Government who is simply trying to use him!! The series is going to get very interesting.