Let's Talk About...Youngblood? Really?
I have a confession to make.
I know, I know. You're in awe. Never expected this confession. It's true, though. I wasn't around for the Berlin Wall, or the bombing of Pearl Harbor, or the invention of the cotton gin. You know, the stuff you guys grew up with.
But we're not here to talk about your growing infirmities. This is a blog about comics, so let's talk about comics!
When I was growing up, I was definitely a DC and Marvel guy. The X-Men were awesome, Superman was the classic hero, you know the drill. I think that I was actually a bit young for the Image craze--after all, I was only, what, three when they came onto the scene? Maybe? Still, I knew of their existence. Never really paid any attention to the Rob Liefeld stuff, though. Savage Dragon and WildC.A.T.S. had television shows, and Spawn was, well, Spawn. Youngblood? Supreme? What were those? Besides, I didn't really care about Savage Dragon, WildC.A.T.S. or Spawn, so what would I care about a comic that broke all sorts of records with its debut? I was six at the time. Not exactly the most attentive audience.
And yet, one day I was at the dollar store, and I bought a pack of comics. I think that there were...six or seven comics there? I picked it because it had an X-Men comic in it. Some Uncanny X-Men issue where Jubilee fought Sabretooth and the Phalanx began to appear. It's still in my collection, I've read it a bunch, one of the earliest Marvel comics I bought that's still in my collection and not basically destroyed.
Anyway, to my disappointment, I had no idea what any of the other comics were. I'd been hoping for some more X-Men or something, but instead I got...two issues of Brigade, one issue of Bloodstrike, one issue of Supreme, and one issue of Turok. The last one wasn't from image, but the others all were, and more importantly, they were from Rob Liefeld's Extreme.
I've reread these all recently. They're...not exactly the best comics. But remember--at the time, I was even younger than I am today. Pre-pubescent, even. So to me, you have to understand, they were the best things ever. Fighting and crazy poses and aliens and blood and death and guns and oh my god it was amazing, I read them so many times that I basically have the issues memorized.
Now then. Flash forward, what, ten years? I'm getting into comics more and more, and oh hey, I had some money. So I went and ordered the full runs of both Brigade and Bloodstrike, the two books that I loved best from that early pack of comics. Crazy cheap on Ebay, because really, who cares about Brigade and Bloodstrike nowadays? I probably got the full runs for ten bucks apiece. And when they arrived, I tried reading them.
Wow. Not exactly Watchmen I was reading there. After struggling through them for awhile, I put them away. I still had this bizarre attachment to the characters, concepts and art--mostly nostalgia-driven, of course, but hey, those are always powerful bonds. But now that I'd come to appreciate, you know, comics written by a writer, I wanted something better.
If only there was a way to take these characters and make modern comics out of them! But nobody would do that, these were dead titles, nobody cared anymore.
Well, as it turns out, people still cared. When Rob Liefeld returned to Image and announced that there would be a new Youngblood series published, written by Joe Casey and illustrated by Derec Donovan, I was intrigued. I didn't have much--okay, barely any--experience with either Casey or Donovan, but I liked the attitude that I saw from Casey, and I liked the art that I saw from Donovan, and I liked the idea of Youngblood (because of its ties to Brigade and Bloodstrike). So I figured, yeah, I'll pick up the new series, and I'll pick up the remastered Youngblood hardcover, too.
The hardcover took forever to be published, so I forgot about it, and the "monthly" series, promised to actually come out on time, did not. Like, at all. It was basically a quarterly book, and because I didn't actually know who any of these characters were beforehand, I'd forgotten what was going on by the time the next issue came out. Hey, I was reading a lot of other comics at the time, cut me some slack.
I kept buying the book, although BC stopped ordering it after issue five, so really, that was it for me. Or so I thought! BC closed, we all know the story. I debated as to whether or not I wanted to find a new store, or order online, or just get trades. Eventually I decided to order online, found MailOrderComics.com, and went with them. I didn't know many books that I wanted to buy, though, so I added Youngblood back to my list and got the back-issues that I'd missed (6, 7 and 8). Now, of course, I'm buying an ungodly amount of comics, but at first I only had a few, so adding Youngblood was no big deal.
Anyway. I also bought the remastered hardcover of the original series (which had finally come out in the interim). And all of this came in the mail yesterday!
So I sat down to read.
I'll say this for Youngblood--it's crazy action. You're not going to get a sophisticated puzzle about morality or anything like that--it's over the top insanity, with guns and posing and violence and blood. But you know what? Sometimes, that's what I want. Don't get me wrong, I'll go for comics by Grant Morrison or Terry Moore or Kierron Gillen over this on most any day, but for a small taste, once a month, I actually do want to just have the equivalent of an over the top action movie, in comic form. And I think that Youngblood, by the very nature of its existence, provides that better than anyone.
That's how I felt about the remastered hardcover, at any rate. And it actually looked pretty good. I can usually get past the anatomy and the obvious limitations of Liefeld's art, because I think that it provides a really dynamic energy to a comic. Which is definitely not appropriate for everything (I wouldn't want it in a comic like, say, Bone, for example), but for crazy superhero fun? Yeah, okay.
Straight from the remastered hardcover, I went for the eight issues of the current series, by Casey and Donovan. Reading these all in a row was, unsurprisingly, much better than spread out over the course of two years. So I could actually remember the character's names and why Guy-with-Arrows was angry with Mr.-Producer-Man. You know, the complicated stuff.
These eight issues were actually a lot more than crazy, over the top action. Sure, there was some of that, too, but it was a quieter comic, dealing with some moral issues and a bit of quiet introspection. And some political and social commentary. Some of it was corny, but it was thoroughly entertaining.
My only regret, actually, is that Casey and Donovan are off the title, despite original plans for a lengthy run. Instead, Rob Liefeld is back on writing and art duties, and despite Casey's arc ending on a rather significant cliffhanger (an alien being of godlike power is about to destroy the Earth, and the team is in serious trouble with the government, and Badrock is about to die), the first issue of Liefeld's story will dive right into the Obama craze.
Now, okay. I'm willing to accept that, because like I said before, Liefeld delivers the action movie comic that I occasionally crave. I just wish Casey had a chance to finish his run first. Even another issue would've done it, I think. Maybe Liefeld will tie up loose ends, though. I can hope!
This post had a point, once upon a time. Now, it's basically "Give Youngblood a chance if you like insane stuff. Also I'm young and you are not. You're welcome for this reminder."