Ah Youngblood #71, this was the one that going in to say I had mixed feelings on it, would be me being polite. Youngblood is the epitome of 90′s comic culture as well as the launching point for Extreme Studios. I really wasn’t sure what to make of this one and giving this a unbiased look was going to be difficult but strangely enough I have hope. My hope for Youngblood began when I learned the writer on this is John McLaughlin who co-wrote the The Black Swan screenplay. That peaked my interest and made the first issue something that I just had to see for myself. Jon Malin and Rob Liefeld share the art duties, so a new artist is introduced while Liefeld makes his return to drawing his creation. I said at one point that Youngblood was going to be one of the more polarizing books out of Extreme Studios. As I began to read though, I learned there’s more to this iteration Youngblood than I expected.
John McLaughlin does more with Youngblood than I imagined he would. A take that merges the self referential vibe of where they stand in the superhero culture. The way McLaughlin uses the entertainment reporter to be your guide through Youngblood is actually a nice touch. You learn just why Youngblood needs someone to help with their image in the first place. While in turn learning about the current state of the team. Outside of the new Shaft and Dieheard, Youngblood itself is an image obsessed, youtube plugging, and overall messy superhero team. Within the dysfunction though lies the fun within Youngblood, the team dynamics are unlike any I’ve seen, yet somehow they function. It’s an interesting examination McLaughlin is playing here.
With this new perspective on Youngblood, the art is the final factor, and Jon Malin and Rob Liefeld do a good job with this new direction. I can only tell so much difference between the two but I give Liefeld credit, the man is piping out work like no tomorrow right now. Because in the midst of Youngblood’s story there is a nice segment in each of the action scenes that really do let the art shine. McLaughlin gives both artists their time in the sun as he brings more to Youngblood than I ever could have imagined, even with a shockingly poignant final page. The vibe of Youngblood is overall fun but then that final page hits you at the core making you wonder just what’s been happening to the team.
I have to admit Youngblood managed to hook me fairly quickly . Especially with John McLaughlin’s take practically reflecting how inconsistent Youngblood has been over the years. One of those examples of a writer new to comics, yet managing to cut to the core of what makes a team like Youngblood work. Because considering the team hasn’t had a consistent tone in a long period of time, this is the best chance of Youngblood clicking with an audience. In reading each page of Youngblood I was surprised in how I found myself embracing this world. Youngblood is smart, well written, and honestly a lot of fun to read. John McLaughlin is the fresh take on Youngblood that this series has needed. I welcome back Youngblood with open arms and I cannot wait to read the next issue.