Written by Jo Duffy
Drawn by Pat Lee
Published by Image Comics
Bloodpool was series of characters created by Rob Liefeld. The premise was that this was the program in which the U.S. Government recruited and then trained new superheroes for the YOUNGBLOOD team. A couple of members, Task and Psilence, had been introduced in the main Youngblood title earlier, joining the team temporarily for a mission, and then in August of 1995 this series was launched, introducing a bunch of new characters in the program.
The story that launched this series was that the government had shut down the Bloodpool program, leaving over a dozen super-powered young people with no jobs or future. 6 of these recruits decide to stick together and become freelance superheroes for hire, and this series would follow their adventures as they try to become established as a team and as a business. Despite being a pretty neat series, and managing to come out on a monthly basis (which was rare for Image Comics, in general, at the time, and even rarer for Rob Liefeld-affiliated comics), this series was canceled after just 4 issues. But I always enjoyed it.
Along with the aforementioned TASK (an excellent fighter with superhuman reflexes and healing factor) and PSILENCE (a mute telepath with powerful mental abilities), the main team was comprised of RUBBLE (a super-strong rock-creature who can rip off parts of his body, including his head, to use as weapons – my personal favorite member), WYLDER (a typical 90’s “badass with claws” character), FUSION (can temporarily convert any solid substance into another substance, and it should be noted is the only member not created by Liefeld, as Pat Lee is listed as his creator and owner) and SEOUL (a martial artist who can call up the spirits of deceased warriors to advise her). Task was the oldest, at 21, with the rest being teenagers.
Right off the bat, in their first adventure, the team happens upon an in-progress kidnapping, rescuing a rich man from a gang of armed thugs. The man gives them a huge check as a reward, and that team uses that to set-up their business. The buy a big house in some fancy neighborhood in the hills, from which to operate. But they’ve barely settled in, before they find themselves facing their first supervillain, THE EYRTH MOVER (yes, it’s spelled like that), a former real estate agent with the powers to control the ground, causing earthquakes, as well as to hypnotize people and animals. Their next major adventure takes them to Egypt, where they’ve been hired to catch some tomb raiders, looking to find a magical amulet that could give it’s bearer unlimited powers, including the power to raise dead mummys to life.
A running subplot throughout the series shows some of the other former Bloodpool members, the ones who didn’t join up with the new team, trying to cope with their lives now, including going on talk-shows to complain about what’s happened to them. The series had a lot of action, with a healthy dose of humor. Jo Duffy had a great ear for dialog, as I thought that the characters sounded very natural, and there was no forced “romantic triangles” or sexual innuendo among the team members (although I originally thought that Task and Psilence were a couple), which helped set this book apart from the glut of other teen superhero groups of the time. I also enjoyed Pat Lee’s artwork. It was a little “messy” at places, he was still young and relatively new in the business at the time, but it has a nice pseudo-anime feel too it.
But that 4th issue was not the end of Bloodpool. 4 months later, in March 1996, BLOODPOOL SPECIAL #1 was released.
Jo Duffy and Pat Lee return for this one-shot, which is part of a crossover storyline which was running through Rob Liefeld’s various Image titles at the time, called HATE. The premise was that some alien had taken the Youngblood member Psi-Fire and hooked him up to some machines to amplify his mental abilities and cause people across America to be overcome with racial hatred. This also coincided with a major criminal trial in which a popular Black actor was convicted of murder, and this lead to race riots (yes, this was soon after the OJ Simpson trial in real life). In this issue, the members of Bloodpool are at some nightclub watching a musical talent contest. Rubble (who is Black), brought them all to root for a Black female trio called Spicerack, who end up winning the contest (which includes getting a record contract. But an earlier band, made of three White guys, called Alkohol, Tobakko, and Fyrearm (yes, spelled like that), who lost and got booed off stage, are angry to lose to “Black Negroes.” They inexplicably gain lightning-like superpowers, and come back to the club looking for revenge, and Bloodpool has to stop them.
Story-wise, the main story is pretty mediocre, and can easily be skipped. The issue also includes a 6-page solo story featuring WYLDER, also written by Duffy, but drawn by Brian Denham. Wylder is hired by a wealthy couple to rescue their kidnapped daughter. It’s not bad.
Unfortunately, none of these issues is available for purchase digitally. The 4-issues of the main series were collected into a trade paperback which can be purchased on AMAZON. The trade does not include the special, which you can order separately on MYCOMICSHOP.COM