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Youngblood #1

Story by Chad Bowers
Art by Jim Towe
Backup story and art by Rob Liefeld
Published by Image Comics

Twenty-five years ago, young Rob Liefeld launched a comics company with an exuberant team of heroes called Youngblood. These characters were fueled by a distinctive artistic voice and the energy of a young creator. This week, another team reimagines the concept for the new Millenium. And it’s a worthy successor.

Chad Bowers, a longtime friend of North Carolina Comicon, knows his nostalgia after great work on books like X-Men ’92 and has been telling high-energy stories since Awesome Hospital. With his version of Youngblood, teen superheroes carry out vigilante justice through the HELP! app, a cute spinoff of Uber and the like. Petra Gomez is worried about a missing friend who used to work with her on app jobs, so she switches code names and joins up with the new Youngblood to investigate. But the original Youngblood heroes aren’t done with the name yet, and felon archer Shaft and lovable rock monster Badrock have a lot to say to these new kids.

The team is terrific, a collection of classic super power sets with the optimism and enthusiasm of the Millenial generation. Bowers obviously respects his history but tells a standalone story. Youngblood is one of my comic book blind spots, and I had no problem keeping up with this issue.

Thematically important, the artist on this one is newcomer Jim Towe. His panels are strong, telling the story in different ways on every page but never switching too hard as to distract the reader. His lines are classic, his superhero costumes beautiful and realistic enough to inspire a cosplayer in time for this fall’s Greensboro show. The colors, by Juan Manuel Rodriguez, click wonderfully with Towe’s linework, popping with energy but never going too 90s.

This book has firm roots in the past, but it’s going to some great new places on its own. Grab a copy at Ultimate Comics, and bring it to Chad for a signature at the next NC Comicon!

-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics