Written by Rob Liefeld
Drawn by Rob Liefeld, Viktor Bogdanovic, Dietrich Smith, Ryan Kincaid, Raymond Leonard, Paul Scott, Ron Williams, Clay Mann, Dan Fraga, Marat Mychaels, Norm Rapmund, Cory Hamscher, Ed Piskor, Philip Tan, Karl Alstaetter, Jim Rugg, V Ken Marion, Tom Scioli, Thomas Hedglen, Matthew Seaborne, Mike Choi
Published by Image Comics
This a late review as I only just got this comic, which was published last month. Despite being a fan of Rob Liefeld, even being friends with him on Facebook, I didn’t really pay attention whenever he’d post some news, as I just assumed it was a reprint, perhaps with some new fancy paper and being recolored, like he did with Bloodstrike #1 a few years ago. And the truth is that Brigade was never one of my favorite properties of his.
The original Brigade was a 4-issues miniseries that launched in 1992, it was the 5th comic to be published by Image Comics, and the 2nd to come out of Liefeld’s Extreme Studios. It was technically a spin-off of Liefeld’s original title, Youngblood. The miniseries was followed by an ongoing series that lasted 24 issues. And although I bought all of the issues at the time, that was because I was just such a huge fan of Liefeld’s that I bought everything he published out of habit. But truthfully it was a rather uninspired concept, basically following the “Big Tough Guy Leads A Bunch of Super-Powered Mercenaries” concept that Liefeld popularized with X-Force, with a bunch of unoriginal characters with little development (This one has fire powers! This one has ice powers! Here’s a guy with a bow and arrow, even though I already have a character like that in Youngblood!).
While it was exciting enough for then-teenage sensibilities, I’d be hard-pressed to describe any of the storylines now, because it was so unmemorable. The only time the series showed any potential was in the last 5 issues when Marv Wolfman was hired to revamp the team, which he did by killing off and replacing most of the original members. A couple of attempts to revive the title in the decades since have proved unfruitful.
So anyway, like I said, a “remastered” version of the first issue just didn’t seem like something I’d bother with. But then I learned a couple of things about this issue that spiked my curiosity and changed my mind, so I bought it. First is that it’s not just reprinted or recolored, the issue is completely redrawn by a slew of different artists. The original issue was drawn by Marat Mychaels, who was a newbie at the time, with this being his first professional work. This was another strike against the title for me, as I found his art amateurish at the time. It certainly lacked the dynamic appeal that I’d come to expect from Liefeld and the other Image artist. But for this new version, Liefeld enlisted a slew of artists, including himself and Mychaels, to completely redraw the issue, with each taking a page (plus a couple of double-page spreads). You can see the names listed in the credits above.
That’s an interesting approach. Although I have to say that, in practice, it’s still flawed as some of the artists have vastly different art styles, and it can be somewhat jarring, and take you out of the story when you see the art change so drastically from one page to the next.
As for the story itself? Well, re-reading it again all these years later reinforces why this title was never that memorable to me.
The story begins in Malibu at a fancy beach house which is this team’s headquarters. In short order, and with the help of some third-party narration, we’re introduced to the various team members. Battlestone, whom we’re told was the former leader of Youngblood, he’s invulnerable with enhanced strength. He mentions being glad to be away from Washington D.C. and looking forward to building this new team without having to deal with the politics and “red tape” that controlled Youngblood. Seahawk and Coldsnap, they’re brothers and are said to be financing the team. Seahawk can fly and is super strong, Coldsnap can shoot ice blasts from his hands, with the aid of some special wristbands. In their first scene, they’re fighting over some girl and Battlestone breaks them up and yells at them. Much is made of them being young and immature.
Atlas can grow to giant size. Thermal is a woman with heat powers, and in her first scene, she’s on a phone call talking to some mysterious person, showing that she’s hiding something from the rest of the team. And Kayo, the archer and martial artist. The team sees a news report on TV about some terrorists who’ve hijacked a tower in Washington D.C., taking hostages, and are threatening to blow it up if their demands aren’t met. Battlestone points out that since it’s D.C. that should be a job for Youngblood, and the news reporters remark on the absence of that team. But since Youngblood’s not around, Battlestone decides that they should go take care of it.
The next thing you know, they’re in D.C.
How did they get there and how long did it take? That’s not explained.
But when Brigade arrives on the scene in their costumes, a local police lieutenant seems to know who they are, referring to them as Brigade and talking to Seahawk about the situation. And there’s also another member of the team, a woman who didn’t get an introduction or explanation in the opening pages, unlike the others. She’s just there now. As Brigade breaks into the tower and starts fighting the terrorists, a bunch of White men in green armor holding big high-tech guns, the woman is referred to as Stasis, and has some kind of force field powers.
The team subdues all the terrorists and evacuates the hostages, with Kayo remaking how easy it seems, almost too easy. But they search the tower and don’t find any bomb. Battlestone spots one of the terrorists trying to run away, and tells the rest of the team to get out of the building while he goes after them. He confronts the remaining terrorists who is revealed to be a suicide bomber, with a bomb built into his armor, which he sets off, blowing up himself and the tower.
As the team watches in shock from outside, the build collapses, and they all assume that Battlestone is dead. But then he triumphantly rises from the destruction and…THE END.
So, yeah, this story is pretty pointless. Let me throw some random new characters at you, and show them fighting a bunch of guys with guns. Who were the terrorists? Don’t know. What was their motive, why did the one guy still blow himself up after they lost? Don’t know. Why did this story take place in Washington D.C. after establishing that the team lives in Malibu, California? Don’t know. The story itself repeatedly talks about it being Youngblood’s “turf”, is their absence supposed to be significant? Something that will be explored later in the series, perhaps leading to a team-up? No.
So, yeah, looking at this with 2022 eyes, I’m not impressed, but to my 1992 eyes this was part of an exciting new universe, so I was hooked.
And now here’s the second reason I chose to buy this comic. It features a 5-page preview of a new series, written and drawn by Rob Liefeld:
This is a brand new property, separate from Liefeld’s Extreme Universe (which makes sense, as he lost creative control of his biggest properties Youngblood and Supreme, years ago).
Heirborne takes place in a world in which a family of super-powered beings have subjugated the world, and only the select few get to live in luxury and comfort (think of them as the 1 percenters of our world). Most people in the world of Heirborne have to ration water and food. But there is hope in the form of a resistance. READ MORE
Color me intrigued, I liked what I saw of this. Heirborne made this issue worth buying for me, and I’m looking forward to learning more about this new universe. So let’s hope Liefeld can get this out to us soon.