After the complete successes that Rob Liefeld had in letting others play with his characters (the revamped Prophet and Glory remain among the best comics I’ve ever read), one couldn’t help but let an optimistic glee take over when news of a Youngblood relaunch came to light.
In fact, we at the Court were extremely interested due to the involvement of Michigan artist Jim Towe, a guy I’d previously contacted about commission work before (a polite decline due to “working on something big”…). He’d made his bones on the comic con circuit, and seeing how all this actually came to be? Incredible.
The first issue of the new Youngblood features a new, young hero named Petra Gomez, first known as ‘Gunner’ and then ‘Vogue.’ We get the smallest of snippets into her past, tantalizingly placed by writer Chad Bowers, and the way she handles herself immediately endeared her to me as a reader: she’s skilled, motivated, and a great protagonist to serve as the window to view this world.
We’re also treated to the knowledge that this isn’t a hard reboot, but a soft one: the team has grown up and grown apart, the world has moved on, but it’s still the same one Youngblood readers are familiar with. Diehard is now President of the United States (with a killer line on Executive Orders…), Vogue is his first lady, Shaft is in prison, and Badrock…poor Badrock is in rough shape.
The story makes real fantastic use of an app called “Help!”, which is just a wonderful idea by the creators: it’s like Uber for people who need a hero, complete with ratings and reviews. The fact that the new Vogue’s mystery is tied into the app adds intrigue to the story, especially with how Diehard observes the new squad’s actions and his own ties to the tech.
And Towe just knocks everything out of the park: his 15-panel grid, complete with subtle changes in Petra’s facial expressions, shouldn’t work as well as it does. Towe has a gift with faces, noting differences from not just character-to-character, but from emotion to emotion, which is something that a fair share of artists can’t maintain any semblance of consistency. His character designs are sleek and fun, with Petra’s being probably my favorite, brought to exciting life by colorist Juan Manuel Rodriguez.
This is just such a damn fun book: the story is captivating, the characters are enjoyable, the flashes to the past are great without being cloyingly nostalgic. Towe and Bowers are on the verge of something really special, and kudos to Rob Liefeld for being a great judge of talent and for assigning the right creators to his characters. This is a great throwback to Image's superhero roots, and I'm stoked to see where it's going.