New Blood: Joe Casey talks "Youngblood"

Fifteen years ago, the world got its first glimpse of Rob Liefeld's superhero team and comic book series "Youngblood." In the intervening years, the franchise has weathered Liefeld's split from the Image Comics and has undergone ill-fated re-launches with the likes of Alan Moore, Mark Millar and Robert Kirkman at the helm. In January, writer Joe Casey and artist Derec Donovan are taking a stab at a new "Youngblood" ongoing from Image, and CBR news sat down with Casey to get the details.

It was Robert Kirkman who made this new "Youngblood" series possible. "Blame him for essentially bringing Rob [Liefeld] and Image back together," Joe Casey told CBR News."Okay, it might've been more complicated than that, but my version makes for a better soundbyte. Anyway, once the wheels seemed to be moving, Kirkman called me up and the next thing I know, I'm writing the new 'Youngblood' book."

The "fully focus-tested" initial line-up of Casey's Youngblood is Shaft, Cougar, Badrock, Doc Rocket, Die Hard and Johnny Panic. "I was given free reign to come up with a cast that I felt like would provide the most energy, the most chemistry," Casey said. "Chemistry is a big thing with me.The best superhero teams have that chemistry, and it's real obvious when they don't."

Casey intends to stay true to Liefeld's vision for the team. "Rob's original concept -- celebrity superheroes -- was pretty forward thinking in 1992 but in 2008 it's going to take on a whole new dimension," Casey said. "The push and pull -- some of them want to be superheroes, others want to be celebrities, rarely do any of them want to be both-- is the basic emotional conflict of the series. Besides, there was barely any Reality TV back in '92. Plus, we introduce Youngblood's very own version of the Masters of Evil (to use a beloved 'Avengers' reference) called Mayhem, Inc."

Despite the team's long and sordid history, Casey assures readers his "Youngblood" would be new-reader friendly. "Both old and new fans will be comfortable with this series," Casey said. "All the old stories certainly took place, but we're not dependant on that history."

It's not Casey's intention to write long, drawn-out story arcs for "Youngblood." "We're not doing arcs per se, we're just doing a monthly book," he said."We're doing serialized superhero fiction, where every issue delivers the goods but is part of a larger overall story."

Casey says that he perceives a certain "'90s nostalgia vibe" in the current comics marketplace, and hopes that will bring a large audience to his "Youngblood" re-launch. "We just want to give them a kick ass, hi-octane superhero team book," Casey said. "There's a contingent of fans out there who are really psyched about this new series. We don't want to let them down. At the same time, we're hoping that there are a few Marvel/DC readers who're willing to give us a shot. Who knows, maybe we'll be giving them something that the Big Two aren't providing right now."

"Youngblood" is not Casey's first collaboration with artist Derec Donovan. "I worked with Derec for more than a year on 'Adventures of Superman," the writer said. "And he's a great collaborator. He was the only name on my list for this book and luckily he was not only available, but enthusiastic about the gig. We're just now settling in for a nice, long run on this series."

Casey is also writing two original graphic novels for Image, "Krash Bastards" and "Nixon's Pal's." On top of those, he'll be penning a new monthly series for Image scheduled for a spring release, and a new Marvel project. "Needless to say, 'Youngblood' is not the only superhero team revival on my plate," Casey teased.

"Youngblood" #1 hits stands January 9, 2008.

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