Once upon a time, I wrote a comic book. It’s true. I invented a character, gave him an origin, gave him a villain, and had him fight that villain. He wasn’t particularly interesting or original – hell, I pretty much ripped off a story my brother had written a few weeks before – but in my defense, I was 10. Over the next year or so, I wrote and drew several other comics with this character, but I always started a story arc without completing it or following up on anything else I had written. No one really cared about the comic since it was sub-par at best and filled with characters that had little beyond a name, a costume, and a power set, but I loved it so I kept cranking them out whenever I was bored.
In a completely unrelated story, Rob Liefeld is bringing back Youngblood.
Once upon a time, a bunch of artists left Marvel and created Image to flex their independent muscles and create their own characters and titles. The result was hit-and-miss, putting it nicely. Sure, Image is still around and depending on who you ask its a haven for creator-owned properties or a giant turd sandwich filled with turds (as turd sandwiches usually are).
But like or not, the original crop of Image books for the most part were not very good. For all the crap that early 90’s comics get today, the early Image books did a lot to earn the rep. You probably won’t hear many people say “Man, when I think of awesome stories, I think early Wetworks. Or Spawn. Or WildCATS.
And certainly not Youngblood.
Unlike books like Spawn which have inexplicably lasted far longer than they have any right to, Youngblood is not a lasting franchise. The original series only lasted 10 issues (with two specials) and has had a few relaunches, always plagued with delays (usually when Liefeld himself decides to take over writing and/or art duties) and mediocre reaction from both fans and critics. Perhaps it says something that the longest lasting Youngblood series (22 issues) was actually a spin-off book called Team Youngblood.
The most recent attempt at a Youngbloodbook was back in 2008 written by Joe Casey. I didn’t read it, but I heard it was okay, and probably the most coherent attempt at the franchise in…well, ever. According to Wikipedia, Liefeld announced in May, 2009 that he would be taking over writing and art duties on the book and not a single thing came out since that announcement.
And that pretty much sums up Youngblood. But lo and behold, Previews solicited the laughably numbered Youngblood #71. I give Marvel a lot of guff for their numbering practices, but man, #71? Who is going to believe that at all? I found the solicit from the fantastic Mike Sterling’s Progressive Ruin‘s fantastic feature “The End of Civilization” (a monthly jaunt through the Previews catalog). Mike’s comments on the matter:
Now, a long time ago on this site, I opined that if Rob Liefeld had stuck with Youngblood from the beginning, and just kept pumping out an issue month after month after month for years, my guess is that by now that theoretical Youngblood series, which would be in its 170s or 180s, would be amazing. I don’t know if it would be “amazing” as in “actually really good” or “amazing” as in “oh my God what the hell is this,” but seeing this relaunch beginning with #71 just reminded me of a wonderful thing we may never see. Unless he commits to this series for twenty years, of course.
And that’s really funny.
To get to #71, that means they’re counting every little one-shot and special that Youngblood tossed out in its (good god) 20 years of existence. All the non-coherent nonsense that’s been spewed out and relaunched through the years count, and in theory can be read to get the whole picture. And trust me, you don’t want that whole picture. Because it has stuff like Babewatch in it.
So what do we think of the new Youngblood? To my sadness, I know four of the five characters shown on the solicit image (Shaft, Die Hard, Cougar, and Vogue). It looks like the characters have aged since Liefeld has given Shaft the 80’s Rogue white hair splash that doesn’t actually happen when your hair goes grey (Cougar has it too, but he always did) . I also have to say that Vogue looks much better drawn by Todd Nauck in that Babewatch image than by Liefeld on that cover. Still struggling with female anatomy, I see.
Being a fan of the X-Men (and thus their spin-offs New Mutants and X-Force), Youngblood was the book I checked out with the Image launch and thus I know some of the characters and honestly it holds a special little place in my fanboy heart. But I’m not going to give this one a try since I’m pretty sure it won’t make it to issue #80 (get it?).
Maybe I’ll check out the relaunch in 2015.