Tuesday, July 6, 2010

They say that cat Shaft's a bad mother-SHUT YOUR MOUTH! I'm just talking bout Youngblood

My favourite used bookstore in the Annex just added a third floor of graphic novels, so I went to check it out. They have some awesome stuff (and a great selection of used piano books) but my favourite part was a selection of five random comic books for a buck. I picked one of the packs solely because it contained Youngblood issue 1 (or as it says on the cover, “1ST EXCITING ISSUE”). It was released in 1992. The cover alone is magnificent.

I don’t really know many of the names. Bedrock, the huge dude in the back, is like as wide across as I am tall. I don’t know what those are on his shoulders. Old Man on the left there has mutton chops to rival the venerable Isaac Asimov’s. I do not for the life of me understand the Phantom of the Opera mask the dude on the right is sporting. What is its purpose? How is it staying on? The ginger’s thighs are ENORMOUS. And then his legs get super thin and then his shins look like someone stuffed a basketball down his pants. It’s amazing.

Inside they have a helpful guide to the names. The big guy is Bedrock, presumably because he’s made of rock. The old guy is Combat, because he engages in combat. The black guy is Chapel because…um…I got nothing. The token girl is Vogue, because she reads Vogue? The Deadpool-ish robot guy is called Diehard, because he likes Bruce Willis. The ginger is called Shaft, because he is obviously a black detective.

Each comic has a little character card. Mine is Vogue. She is apparently a Russian defector who is trained in gymnastics and martial arts. She likes to use throwing knives and shurikens. Yes, shurikens are obviously Russian, why do you ask? In her civilian identity, she runs a cosmetics empire. You can tell she is a cosmetics expert because of her face paint, obvi.

The first page contracts a tragic case of the Mark Trail disease of misplaced word balloons. Shaft (aka Jeff) is out with his girlfriend. Here’s the dialogue on the first panel according to where the word balloons are:

A tile on the floor: I’m actually shopping on my lunch hour with my boyfriend. Unbelievable!
The railing of a bridge: Believe it, Shelly. I told the guys back at the office that paperwork would wait.

Then in the next panel, Jeff appears to be having a conversation with himself while his girlfriend looks on, bemused. Shelly shoehorns into the conversation that she is an assistant DA. Presumably Jeff is some sort of detective.

A purse snatcher runs through the mall and Jeff leaps over…something, with a rainbow background. I wish I had the scanning technology so you could see this panel, but it’s magnificent. His right leg looks like it’s broken. His left leg looks like it was lopped off below the knee and the (now kidney bean shaped) foot was reattached to the knee. He leaps down some stairs and tackles the purse snatcher, who is now about two feet tall.

A man with a gun is on the balcony, aiming his gun that looks nothing like any gun I’ve ever seen at Shaft. He notices the sniper and throws a pen backwards (or something, the contradicting motion lines make this hard to figure out). The rainbow background is back. The pen hits the sniper in the throat and somehow knocks him backwards off the balcony, even though he was facing the railing. So I guess he was shooting at a spider behind him, or something.

Everyone wants to talk to Shaft, despite the fact that he just killed a man. It appears he breaks out in some kind of ballet dance move. He is hounded by journalists (of course, because journalists are always EVIL BAD VULTURES HURRRRR) and Shaft goes, “The press? The body isn’t even cold!” Yeah, when you just killed the dude, you don’t get the right to judge others.
Shaft has some pretty intense cheekbones. Like it looks like someone slashed his face. Shaft breaks out some dance moves again because someone is calling him on the Youngblood communicator.

I would never have noticed this if I didn’t read it on a website somewhere, but Rob Liefeld really, really hates feet. They are always either blocked from view or very tiny.

Now we switch to Bedrock, who is eating what looks like that weird green potion thing from Troll 2. Diehard telepathically (or something) figures out they need him and flies off. Chapel is in bed with a girl, and the whole sequence is very confusing, but it’s explained well here.

Shaft asks what’s going on and Anonymous Mission Control Girl informs them that their transport vehicles are under attack and yells by who: “IT’S STRONGARM AND GAGE!!! THE FOUR!” You know it’s serious because everyone has their teeth clenched SO HARD.

I got all excited because I thought Juggernaut was attacking Youngblood, except he’s not. Sad. His thigh is wider than his waist. Has Liefeld even seen a human being? I understand the urge to make your men manly; it’s a comic book, go for it. But at least make them proportionate. I promise, it’s possible. Off the top of my head, Ed McGuinness and Jim Lee can both manage it.
Two generic villains show up. One has a long ponytail that is waving around like Medusa’s snakes. I can’t even describe the girls villain’s outfit but here are some phrases for you: canary yellow, shoulder pads, and thunder thighs.

Anyway, Diehard attacks Juggernaut-lite and I can’t really describe what he’s doing. He leaps from above and kind of twists himself into a U. His legs are bent back way farther than they should be. In the next panel, his leg appears to be approximately two miles long. The next page features a very unappealing splash of Youngblood and some dudes with fat thighs in the back.

There’s another half to this book, but I can’t face it right now. True story: when I went to write “this” just now I accidentally wrote “shi” and then stopped. Freudian slip, I guess.

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