Written by Chad Bowers
Drawn by Jim Towe
Colored by Juan Manuel Rodriguez
Lettered by Rus Wooton
Published by Image Comics
Alright, 25 years after it’s illustrious debut, Rob Liefeld’s premier superhero team YOUNGBLOOD is back!
Admittedly, even for a hardcore longtime fan such as myself, I’m unaware of how many attempts at ongoing Youngblood series’ there have been. But it’s a testament to the purity of the concept (celebrity superheroes) that no matter what decade we’re in, it always feels relevant.
At lot has changed for our heroes. At some point in the past, a hacktivist group released all the government files on Youngblood, reveals a bunch of scandals that had been hidden from the public, and the team was disbanded, with both Shaft and Badrock ending up in jail. In a scene in Shaft’s jail cell, there are small newspaper clippings on the wall giving up some hints to the fates of other Youngblood members, Cougar, Photon, and Masada. But the biggest changes are to DieHard and Vogue. They are now the President and First Lady of the United States of America.
That’s right, DieHard is referred to as President DieHard. And he still wears his mask in public, although we do get a glimpse of him without it. I’ll just say that his face wasn’t what I expected. Vogue is just Nikola now, and doesn’t wear her purple and white makeup. It’s an interesting twist to their characters, and, let’s face, considering who got elected President in real life last year, this doesn’t seem so crazy.
But the main plot of this story revolves around a new mobile app called HELP!, which is like Uber except instead of using it to get rides, users use it to get a superhero when they’re in danger. We meet a young man named Horatio who is secretly a superhero called Man-Up (he can grow to giant size). He’s on the app, and one night he gets a hit and goes out to meet the person who summoned him, but then disappears. Sometime later, Horatio’s friend Petra, who herself is a secret superhero on Help! called Gunner (there’s a hint that she’s an Olympic sharpshooter) notices his missing and goes searching for him. It’s hard, at first, since she didn’t know his secret identity, but she eventually figures it out and tracks down his aunt, and promises to her that she’ll find him.
The story leaps ahead to the present day, where Gunner is now calling herself Vogue, and is seen in action alongside Doc Rocket, Suprema, and a new young Black man in Sentinel’s old army, are fighting some supervillains together, apparently using the name Youngblood and when President DieHard sees this, he has Shaft and Bedrock released from jail and orders them to go take this new team down. Unfortunately Badrock is…not in the best of health…
And that’s all the spoilers I’m giving for this issue. It’s a nice solid “first issue,” introducing us to some new protagonists, revealing just enough about their backgrounds while leaving other info unknown for now, which makes you want to stick around to learn more. I am unfamiliar with the work of writing Chad Bowers, but he seems to have a proper aptitude for dialog and pacing. And, most important for an assignment like this, he seems familiar with the Rob Liefeld catalog of characters. For longtime fans, there are several little Easter Eggs that they should appreciate, while this issue is also easily accessible for any new fans.
Artist Jim Towe appears to be a real newbie to the industry, but it was his redesigns for the Youngblood team, which caught Rob Liefeld’s attention and lead the launching of this new series. And I can definitely see why here, as his work is pitch perfect. Kudos to him, and the rest of the creators who worked on this story, as well.
This issue also contains a 4-page story called AS IT SHOULD BE, written and drawn by Rob Liefeld, with inks by Shelby Robertson. I won’t say anything other than it includes some new and familiar faces and alludes to some big event coming in the future.
So altogether, this was a very satisfying start to this series, and I can’t wait to read what happens next! Highly recommended.