By Chad Bowers, Jim Towe and Juan Manuel Rodriguez
Anyone who grew up reading comics in the 90s remembers the Image boom. Savage Dragon, Spawn, Wild C.A.T.S. and Youngblood. These were the biggest names put out by Image as they began to build their label and bring new and different comics to readers. As the years went on, some of these properties became less popular and fizzled out. There were a few relaunches here and there to bring the characters back or introduce them to another generation. We’re now entering another launch for Youngblood. There is something a little different going on here, though, as the cast is very limited and there are some new characters in the fray. This may be the formula that works and keeps this series around for an extended run.
Chad Bowers takes his chances on reviving the old crew for another mission. What works for this issue is that we have a nostalgia factor coming into play. It’s fun to read Shaft and Diehard again, even if it’s only a couple of pages for the latter. Bowers doesn’t only focus on the old characters, but he also brings in some new ones that help break up their story. This modern take on the book has people using a phone application called Help. Anytime there is a crime being committed civilians get on and request assistance. This is actually a decent idea, but of course, the wrong people can make false claims and ambush heroes. Where the issue falters is that there are many different things going on and we don’t get enough of any of them. As readers, we want to focus on a couple different storylines, and this issue has one or two too many. Bowers does a nice job of building interest in what’s going on, but you may have re-read the parts with the unfamiliar characters again to remember who is who.
The pencils are handled by Jim Towe with colors by Juan Manuel Rodriguez. No matter how good of a job anyone can do on the art here, it’s always going to be compared to Rob Liefeld. Towe does a pretty nice job on this issue, but his work does lack the grittiness of Liefeld’s original art. Many artists struggle with faces and distinguishing the different characters, but that’s actually one of the areas Towe nails. Each face has a distinct look to them and they are all very clean and proportionate. Towe is very detailed in his work, this is seen in any page with Badrock on it; his face and body look great as the rocks that make him up are very noticeable. The colors by Rodriguez is fine, but they are a little light compared to how Youngblood usually looks, especially with skin tone.
As far as relaunches go, this was a pretty decent set up issue. Old characters are represented and some new ones are also introduced. Chad Bowers remains faithful to fans of the original series while also trying to bring in new readers. The art is fine, but could be a little edgier. Overall, if you’re a fan of the book from the 90s you’ll like this issue.