Publisher: Image Comics
Story: Chad Bowers
Art: Jim Towe
Release Date: 3rd May 2017
I’ll start this review by saying that I’m old enough to have bought the first issue of Youngblood 25 years ago. Little did I know back then when Image exploded onto the comic scene that this would be at the vanguard of changing the comic book world. All I really thought at the time was “Meh, this isn’t very good” quickly followed by “Liefeld still can’t draw feet”. I never bought another issue, and only kept up to speed by reading a mate’s purchases very occasionally.
So, roll on 25 years and it’s announced that Youngblood is to be reborn, rebooted and reimagined. I honestly wasn’t all that interested until I saw that Liefeld wasn’t at the helm. You may have gathered, but I’m not really a fan of the man’s work. Too much ego and not enough “footwork”. If you look at his contemporaries on the X Books in the early 90s, Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio, he wasn’t quite in the same league artistically. That being said, Liefeld was a man of sometimes decent ideas, and Youngblood was a fairly good idea. That’s why I was keen to see this latest version.
By the time I read this first issue of Youngblood Reborn I had read the official blurb from Image. “An uber popular self-protection app called HELP! is changing how we stay safe—“HELP! lets you decide who saves you.” But when a high-rated young hero on the app goes missing, his best friend’s search for answers gains the attention of some unexpected allies, and together, they’ll do whatever it takes to find him… even if it means resurrecting the world’s most hated super-team, Youngblood.“ I was intrigued, here, by what sounded like a genuinely fresh idea. Why hadn’t anyone else thought about a superhero-matching app?
The story is ably told by Chad Bowers, but to be honest you shouldn’t expect anything else from the scribe of X-Men ’92 and Deadpool: Bad Blood. Spiritually, this man knows how to channel the 90s. Except, that’s not what he’s doing here with Youngblood Reborn. This is fresh and doesn’t appear to be wedded to the excesses of 90s comics. So, hats off to Chad.
As for the art I don’t know Jim Towe from Adam. Not a surprise really when you find out that he was an unpublished artist whose tweet of redesigned Youngblood characters impressed Liefeld so much that he got the gig. Serendipity, kismet, providence, whatever you call it, it’s a story line straight from Stan Lee’s pen. The only thing missing are super powers. Give credit where it’s due, too. He does a damn fine job. The art is clean and contemporary, with an almost animated feel. At this point you couldn’t say “that’s Jim Towe”, it’s too early and the work is a little too generic right now. I have no doubts however, that as this artist’s body of work grows he will find his own “signature”.
Juan Manuel Rodriguez deserves a shout out for his bold colours here too. They work very well with Towe’s art. Last but not least, Rus Wooton deserves a shout out for his lettering. There are 15 panels on one page of this comic, and not once did the positioning of the dialogue boxes detract from the artwork. That’s a skill, ladies and gentlemen, that is far too often taken for granted. So hats off to Rus too.
Overall I was quite taken with this first issue. Blending the old with the new hasn’t quite happened yet, and could be quite tricky to get right, but issue one has done well in giving us a peek of the new, and a glimpse of the past. The brief foretaste of the future of Youngblood Reborn feels quite promising.
P.S. There is a portentous 4 pages drawn by Rob Liefeld at the end of this issue. The first page looks like he’s channeling John Romita Jr. and the human characters have honest to goodness proper noses, so even Mr Liefeld continues to develop over time. He still struggles with feet, though.
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The writer of this piece was: John Wallace
John Tweets from @jmwdaredevil