YOUNGBLOOD #1, Image Comics, April 1992
You might have noticed of the last couple of days have been about crap comics. And no serious crap roundup can occur without a fine product by Rob Liefeld. In this case, Youngblood. (Easy prey? Yes. But it's Friday. Leave me alone.)
When a bunch of "hot" Marvel artists started asking for more money & women and didn't get them, they cut themselves loose and created Image Comics, where they promptly started books that were - at least visually - derivative of what they'd been doing at Marvel. What they didn't really bring with them is writers and editors. Result? A new Dark Age of Comics that made the 50s and 70s look like Italy at the height of the Renaissance.
The worst of these new comics was Liefeld's Youngblood. Now, Liefeld is the artist that "popularized" a style of comics that combined overrendered art (mainly cross-hatching and speed lines in lieu of backgrounds), disproportionate anatomy (also known as "not knowing how to draw the human form"), and totally useless costume accessories (like huge epaulets, mismatched boots, and thigh belts - here's a tip: if you're not gonna sheath a knife in it, you don't need that thigh belt...)
(...unless it's to keep your muscles from blowing your leg up, I guess.)
Bad art, but it was popular at one time. Bad writing though? Well, I don't think it even qualifies as writing. Youngblood #1 features two stories in flip-book format. You spend 16 pages with the "home team" and 16 with the "away team". I say "story", but they're really each a collection of splash pages detailing a fight with villains that might as well be the heroes. Visually, there's nothing that makes them any different from Youngblood, and there's nothing morally different about them either. Not only is characterization at its absolute minimum, the heroes are rather reprehensible and thoroughly unlikable.
For some reason, I got the second issue too, which introduces even more characters I'll never care about, but it's interesting for its letters page. Now it's a well-known fact in the comics industry that Liefeld has an inflatable ego and that even his Image buddies eventually had to throw him out. When did he start deserving that rep? Short answer: Youngblood #1 with its ad for joining the Rob Liefeld Fan Club!
Dude... More to the point is that letters page from Youngblood #2, which I'm being very careful not to touch in case I get some fanboy jizz on me. It's two pages of the gushiest ass-licking I've ever read. Liefeld didn't just print the most complimentary comments, he published the ones that were openly having an orgasm over his stuff. Everything I hate about the comic, they love. One comment caught my eye in particular (paraphrased): "I love ALL the characters! And I don't even know anything about them!"
Ok, in my book? Not knowing anything about any of the characters after the first issue is a CONDEMNATION.
For example, the guy we know the most about is the Youngblood's leader, Shaft. What I know about Shaft:
1) He's a Hawkeye or Green Arrow rip-off.
2) His name must inspired by the fact that he's a prick.
3) While he can kill a guy with a thrown pen (sound familiar?), his real power is turning his face into a skull:
4) He takes hormone treatments and eventually hopes to have enough money to pay for "the Operation".
Shaft, you're being paged. Dr. Lovebaum is ready to see you now.
Awful art, bad computer coloring, unmemorable characters with unmemorable codenames (Combat? Vogue? Psi-Fire?) and unmemorable costumes, lettering that doesn't flow with the dialogue, gratuitous violence, stilted scripting, disjointed action, a "badass" character riding a lilac motorbike, and a Saddam look-alike being turned inside out at the end.
No, that cannot be considered its one redeeming value.