Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blogathon 44: Joe Casey Youngblood Rewrite (Part 1)

It's been forever since I've looked at the origin Youngblood comics. I can't remember, honestly, if I read all of the originals that Joe Casey rewrites/reedits in this hardcover. But, I have wanted to check it out for a while and see what Casey could do with the art done by Liefeld. After all, it's bit different than a regular scripting job where at least Casey would have delivered a plot to Liefeld. Instead, he's working from pages he had no input on and has to deliver a quality comic.

I don't think he quite succeeded. This is still an uneven work that never quite coheres. The dialogue doesn't pop the way Casey's dialogue usually does. He tries to emphasise the 'superhero celebrity' aspect of the concept and even lay some groundwork for his own run on the property where he expanded into supervillain celebrity in an interesting way. However, things are too limited by the art and the existing mythology to really transcend what it was to become something a bit more Casey's than Liefeld's.

That probably wasn't Casey's intention anyway. If anything, this reminds me of Casey's work on something like the Project: Superpowers books he worked on. Competent and forgettable to a degree. Less like his than him working to achieve someone else's vision. Which, oddly, you rarely see in comics he does for Marvel or DC. Those comics usually have a distinctive Casey voice to them. There are a few moments in Youngblood where he peaks through -- like the woman in Chapel's bed wanting to see him in the uniform.

Worse, by adhering so closely to the concept laid out by Liefeld, the work still seems somewhat antiquated and of the early '90s. While it's true that Youngblood was forward-thinking in its treatment of superheroes as celebrities, that's an idea that's been explored quite a bit in the meantime and it doesn't stand out as much here, especially since it's been rewritten. The originals could feel dated or antiquated, because they are to a degree. You expect a little more from a rewrite like this. Some fresher dialogue or something that makes it stand out -- and able to stand alongside other comics released now. The closest thing we get is Badrock's constant whining. I did like that.

Judging from a picture Tim posted on Twitter the other day, he's actually gone back to the original comics for a little comparison. In 30 minutes, we'll see what he found out.

[Don't forget to donate what you can to the Hero Initiative (Details in this post)! After you do, let me know via comment or e-mail (found at the righthand side) so I can keep track of donations -- and who to thank.]