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Youngblood is a superhero team, and eponymous comic book, created by Rob Liefeld. The team made its debut as a backup feature in the 1987 one-shot "Megaton: Explosion". Its first "official" appearance was in 1992 as the flagship publication for Image Comics. Frequently criticized for the quality of its art and writing, its frequent lateness, and its graphic violence and foul language , Youngblood has often been portrayed as an example of everything that went wrong with the comic book industry in the 1990s.
The members of Youngblood include Shaft, an archer whose bow uses magnets to propel its arrow instead of a string; Badrock a teenager transformed into a living block of stone (originally named "Bedrock" until Liefeld faced legal action from Hanna-Barbera Productions for obvious reasons); Vogue, a Russian fashion model with purple-and-chalk-white skin; and Chapel, a government assassin.
Origins of the series
In interviews, Liefeld has explained that Youngblood was partially based on a 1991 plan of his for a new Teen Titans series for DC Comics, possibly titled "Team Titans," to be co-written with Marv Wolfman. Liefeld and managing editor Dick Giordano "couldn't make the numbers work," however, and Liefeld merged his Titans ideas into a new creator-owned project, Youngblood, to be published by the newly-founded Image Comics. According to Liefeld, "Shaft was intended to be Speedy. Vogue was a new Harlequin design, Combat was a Kh'undian warrior circa the Legion of Super Heroes, ditto for Photon and Die Hard was a Star Labs android. I forgot who Chapel was supposed to be."  Another inspirational source for Youngblood, Liefeld claims, is the theory that if superheroes really did exist, they would be treated much the same way as movie stars and athletes. Throughout the series there are numerous references to endorsement deals, TV show appearances, agents, managers and the perceived pressures of celebrity life.
Image Comics debut
With his opportunity with DC to do Team Titans looking bleak, and a growing strained relationship with Marvel Comics over his X-Force royalties, Rob Liefeld decided to band together with other unhappy Marvel artists to form an independent comics company. The company formed was called Image Comics, and the first comic Image debuted was Youngblood #1. At the time of its release, Youngblood #1 was the highest selling independent comic book ever. However, Youngblood #1 also received very poor reviews from critics, which led to Liefeld firing his co-writer from the book. Throughout its run at Image, Youngblood was criticized for poor writing and inconsistent art, but mostly for its lateness. Near the mid 1990s, Liefeld had a falling out with his Image partners, forcing him to leave the company and take Youngblood with him.
Alan Moore age
In 1998, Liefeld hired Alan Moore to write new issues of Youngblood; however, despite Moore's well-publicized plans for at least 12 issues, only two issues were ever printed and the third issue was published in another book called Awesome Adventures. The team also appeared in a short story in the Awesome Christmas Special where Shaft's journal provides the narration as the new team comes together.
He created a new Youngblood group that was financed by the millionaire Waxey Doyle, formerly the WWII superhero Waxman introduced in Moore's run on Supreme. The team was formed by Shaft and the new members Big Brother (Leonard, Waxey's adopted son that controlled a series of robots), Doc Rocket (a speedster that is the granddaughter of a golden age superhero of same name), Twilight (a female and gothic version of Robin), Suprema (Supreme's adopted sister) and Johnny Panic (in Moore's words "the first postmodern superhero"; his powers come from a suit that can create holograms). The team's headquarters at this time was Waxey's mansion, the House of Wax.
Most of the villains featured in this series were Moore's creations, like Stormhead (a villain whose mood influences the weather around him), most members of the Badblood (a team created by former Team Youngblood leader Sentinel) and Jack-A-Dandy (a strange criminal that looks and acts like a Victorian dandy, modeled after The Joker).
Moore's rough outline for the series was published in Alan Moore's Awesome Handbook, and included a budding relationship between Big Brother and Suprema, a giant planet-devouring entity called "The Goat", and the revelation that Johnny Panic was the biological son of Supreme villain Darius Dax.
In 1993, Liefeld solicited Youngblood stories from Kurt Busiek, who plotted three issues of a projected four-issue series, Youngblood: Genesis. This was never produced; however, in 2004, Liefeld began soliciting orders for Youngblood: Genesis, with Busiek credited as the writer. Busiek publicly denounced this, since he never wrote any full scripts, only detailed plots for three issues and ideas for a fourth; Brandon Thomas scripted the issues. Busiek has asked that his fans not buy the series, which was officially cancelled after 2 issues and many delays; Liefeld says he plans to re-launch it soon, and a trade paperback of the series was solicited for 2005
In 2004, Robert Kirkman began writing a new series, Youngblood: Imperial, but left after one issue due to his busy schedule. Fabian Nicieza was slated to take over, but so far issues #2-3 have yet to appear, despite solicitations.
In 2005, Liefeld announced that Joe Casey would be re-assembling and re-scripting the original Youngblood miniseries into a more coherent and sophisticated story, to be titled Maximum Youngblood.
Youngblood comics bibliography
Note that many issues (especially #1s) were printed with multiple variant covers.
- Volume One - 1992-1994 Issues #0 - 10 and a yearbook
- Youngblood Strikefile Vol 1 - 1993 Issues #1-4
- Volume Two - 1995-1996 Issues #1 - 14 (super special)
- X-Force/Youngblood and Youngblood/X-Force 1996 one-shots
- Volume Three - 1998 Issues #1-2
- Team Youngblood - Issues #1 - 22
- Youngblood: Bloodsport (Millar) - 2003 Issues #1-2
- Youngblood: Genesis (Busiek/Thomas) - 2004 Issues #1-2
- Youngblood: Imperial (Kirkman) - 2004 Issue #1
- Savant Magazine's analysis of the Busiek/Liefeld controversy
- Excerpt from a Newsarama.com public discussion between, among others, Liefeld and Busiek
- A (negative) review of Youngblood #1
- Liefeld discusses upcoming plans for Youngblood at Newsarama
- The Youngblood Myspace Page
- Extreme Genesis for many Youngblood covers and other Liefeld art