In response to Mike Sterling’s question: (Warning: incoherent ramblings about 17-year-old comic books, plus goopy adolescent nostalgia)
I liked Youngblood because I was twelve. Actually, I guess I was only 12 for the first two issues, but the point is the same: I liked Youngblood because it felt like it was made for me. I started reading comics because of the Batman movie in 1989, and I stuck with mostly Bat-stuff and, for some reason, Darkhawk, until 1992 when Youngblood came out, and it just hit me exactly where I wanted to be hit. Partly it was hype, sure, which I was pretty susceptible to; partly it was the idea of this brat kid (and his brat kid pals) thumbing his nose at Marvel and making his own comics; but mostly it just seemed so cool. It felt like something completely new, even if, even then, I recognized the characters as thinly veiled Marvel & DC knockoffs (though the full extent of Liefeld’s Fourth World scavenging didn’t sink in until I read the Joe Casey-scripted remastered version this year). I loved that Liefeld and the rest of the Image guys were creating this new universe out of whole cloth; it felt to me like the beginnings of the Marvel universe must have felt for 12-year-olds in 1963. When the Youngblood guys showed up in Savage Dragon or WildC.A.T.s, it was truly epic to me. I obsessively read and reread this Amazing Heroes issue that had a “jam interview” with the Image guys, hoping to glean just one more ounce of insight into their new projects. Their excitement felt genuine, and fueled my own.
But none of the Image guys were more excited than Liefeld, and that excitement came through on the page to 12-year-old me. I know it sounds phony when somebody like Mark Millar talks about how cool Liefeld’s art is (or, god forbid, compares him to Kirby), and I know how much fun it is to make fun of his terrible anatomy and the Levi’s commercial, but jesus, when I was twelve? I spent hours staring at those pages. It felt like Marvel and DC were Kansas, and Youngblood was Technicolor Oz. The qualities that make Liefeld’s art and writing so bad to an adult are exactly what make his stuff manna for a 12-year-old. Youngblood was just pure adolescent id spewed across the pages of a comic book. It took itself ultra-seriously, but it was also gleefully incoherent. It felt like a 12-year-old smashing together everything he loved about Marvel and DC, with no regard for anything beyond his own immediate pleasure. It felt like the comic I would have made if I had the resources Liefeld did; in fact, it was the comic I spent hours trying to recreate, coming up with my own characters that were knockoffs of knockoffs, learning how to hide feet behind strategic rock outcroppings. This was 1992: Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Kathy Ireland and Vendela in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, Batman Returns, losing the region spelling bee, an election I barely understood, spending all my time in the gifted class drawing terrible comics, leaving childhood behind and becoming a teenager. I wore my socks in a really weird way until this dude I thought was my friend made fun of them. Youngblood was loud and garish and ugly and violent and stupid and it wanted you to know that it thought it was the greatest thing ever. Of course I loved it.