Strike Hard. Strike Fast. Strike First. (Youngblood #4 Review)

Youngblood #4
Writer: Chad Bowers
Penciler: Jim Towe
Colorist: Juan Manuel Rodriquez
Publisher: Image Comics

What You Need to Know:

Youngblood is now the world’s most infamous super team after a highly public meltdown. Mired in scandal and a series of failures, the teams that once served as agents of the United States are now strictly forbidden from any heroic activity in wake of the “Liberty II” incident. The landscape of the superhero has changed from public servitude and good deeds to mercs ordered through a handy smartphone app called HELP! The newest Vogue, determined to find her missing friend has decided that it’s time to make some noise and see who’s listening.

What You’ll Find Out:

Sally, Suprema or Supreme, is beginning to wake up. Abducted years before she has returned to Earth a very changed woman. Forces unseen have begun to activate her subconscious for a purpose yet to be revealed.

The true nature of the Bryne brothers Hans and Rudolf surface. Brynetec is nothing more than a ghost alias for Cybernet, the mastermind the HELP! App and a string of missing heroes, including Man-up, Vogue’s primary focus since the first issue. HELP! An App marketed for seeking instantaneous aid of a superhero is a cleverly engineered data fishing program designed to aid the Bryne brothers in their human trafficking interests.

Shaft goes rogue having been the first to make the connection between Brynetec and Cybernet. His pursuit to legitimize his suspicions is hampered by the confrontation of Hardheads, president Diehard’s elite squadron of enforcers who’ve been dispatched to collect the archer and return him to custody. Jeff has other ideas. His skill is capable enough of defeating three of the four assailants. But almost isn’t good enough. After an explosion filled encounter Shaft is nearly killed by the use of maximum force but is saved by the team he doesn’t want.

Diehard’s advisors alert him to the conflict and decides that Shaft’s actions ultimately are his responsibility and determines to settle matters personally.

With Shaft secured by Youngblood’s first division, the second party gains entry into Brynetec. Vogue and Sentinel watch as the Bryne brothers complete the transaction of Man-up but are discovered. As their own awareness catches up to Shaft’s initial conclusion, their escape is halted by a duo who identify themselves as the Chapel.

What Just Happened?

Comic readers have long snubbed their noses or lobbed gaffes at Rob Liefield’s unsophisticated and overly direct creations. Chief among the most criminal being Youngblood. But if anything can be said by the notorious comic celebrity is that his acumen for capitalizing on trends and opportunity certainly makes him a shrewd and successful entrepreneur.

Youngblood has been launched and relaunched more than several times since its inception under the Image banner in 1992. This time it appears he realizes as so often before, his concepts are successfully rebranded and helmed by other creative talents. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Indeed, the manner of such methods have propelled many of his key figures into heightened success and popularity. Such appears to be the case with 2017’s Youngblood.

Issue #4, crafted by writer Chad Bowers, is done with a perfect balance of action, story, and most importantly, fun! Perhaps the creative team is learning by examining the shortfalls of Youngblood’s past publication history in which the book and those behind it seemed to take itself way too seriously, often came across like it was trying too hard to prove something, or reach some elusive critical validation that was always just beyond reach. By all appearances the driving forces behind this book seem to have been tempered with some perspective maturity as Youngblood celebrates its 25th anniversary. The agenda has been refined by executing the telling of a good straightforward story with strong illustrations and more importantly doesn’t try to be what it’s not in the sense of being an overly serious yet one dimensional comic tailored to a bunch of 30 somethings that are still 16 in in terms of taste. Instead, Youngblood and the circle around aims for a new audience by capitalizing  on what it is through honest reflection and lessons learned. Those qualities are a representation of hip trends and reflective of the moment. If you open any previous issues they are almost like an encapsulated message in a bottle. Bower understands YB’s truth and utilizes its unique niche’ with the clever use of the HELP! App concept to formulate a strong story. Towe in many ways is shares artistic similarities to Liefeld where both have a distinctive ability to convey energy through illustration in ways other artists cannot, a rare skill set that launched Liefeld to the height of his career. Towe’s battle scenes are dynamic and pleasantly simplistic which provides ample opportunity to become engaged in events as they unfold.

Even more daring and smart was the decision to not ignore Youngblood’s highly panned past plot events in favor of the popular relaunch concept and instead uses the last ending point and a springboard for moving forward, specifically with reference to the Bloodstream events.

Rating 8.7/10

Final thought: Issue #4 is a great story re-imagined by a sharp creative team. If the reader can follow their lead, queues, and newfound awareness by not comparing or standardizing this newest iteration to other major teams with years of consistent and established foundation by other publishers, it is highly likely you will enjoy the newest continuation of Youngblood.

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