This is the second in a series of examination of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. The first one can be found here (spurred on by me falling for an urban legend regarding Walt Simonson keeping a list of Doom Bot appearances during his Fantastic Four run).
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Youngblood was a reworking of a pitch Rob Liefeld made to DC for Team Titans.
Yes, amusingly enough, in the early 90s, Liefeld was in negotiations with DC to create a spin-off title of the Titans, tentatively called either Titans Force or Team Titans.
From an interview with Newsarama, here is Liefeld discussing the situation:
Question: And for fans who may not know, in the early '90s you were in negotiations with DC about doing a Titans limited series with Arsenal and Speedy which eventually morphed into...
Liefeld: I proposed a new Titans book in 1991, Team Titans was the proposal, Jon Peterson who edited the book approved it, Marv Wolfman signed on to co-write it and then I couldn't make the deal with Dick Giordano. God bless him, we just couldn't make the numbers work. So I took my proposal and merged it with an existing indie project I had called Youngblood. Next thing you know, POOF...Image comics was born.
Question: Can you tell us about the circumstances surrounding that time and that project?
Liefeld: Shaft was intended to be Speedy. Vogue was a new Harlequin design, Combat was a Kh'undian warrior circa the Legion of Super Heroes, ditto for Photon and Die Hard was a Star Labs android. I forgot who Chapel was supposed to be. So there you have it, the secret origin of Youngblood.