Youngblood #8

"Youngblood" is another comic that's jumped aboard the Obama train with a flipbook cover featuring the president and a six-page story that has him being briefed on the new Youngblood team, which is actually a version of the original Youngblood team and has little to do with the Youngblood group featured for the other 20 pages of the comic. It's a good thing that most people buying this book for Obama's face won't want to read the contents, because it's confusing as all get-out.

The main story makes for the strongest issue of "Youngblood" yet with Joe Casey and Derec Donovan firing on all cylinders, tying together seven issues' worth of build-up for an action-packed and, sometimes, humorous climax. The new, media-friendly Youngblood squad is rescued by part of the old team from Stormhead, a superpowered terrorist causing a tornado, and the Televillain, a bad guy with odd television powers, while the other half of the old team travels into a television to rescue Scion from the set of "Oprah." Wait, did I actually type that sentence? That's some crazy stuff.

While previous issues haven't coalesced the way that Casey and Donovan would have liked, this issue really does coalesce, with a chaotic pace that makes every problem seem huge and that everything could fall apart at any second. The highlight of the issue is Johnny Panic guiding Shaft and Cougar through the television world, trying to find Scion and Oprah. It's an old gag, but it works well here.

The team-up of the two Youngblood squads works well, too, as the real force behind these villainous attacks is revealed -- at least to the readers. It's not a surprise, but the overt actions they take to protect themselves sure is. Hint: a character gets shot with a laser beam from a satellite.

Donovan's art is cartoony and dynamic. His depiction of Oprah hasn't improved since last issue, but his composition is better. The colors of Bill Crabtree are quite good, not always using solid colors, but a more textured look. Though, he does use a lot of bright, primary colors, which is exactly what this book needs.

The confusing part comes with Rob Liefeld's six-page Obama story, which is entirely disconnected from the main comic. He introduces a new Youngblood squad filled with "old favorites" from the original team, but doesn't really do much. Readers will be confused why Diehard has his old look or why a diseased (and possibly dying) Badrock is suddenly fine. With May's solicitations showing that Liefeld is taking over the book's art and writing chores, the cliffhanger ending of Casey and Donovan's story is even odder.

It's a shame that just when Casey and Donovan were hitting their stride, Liefeld has returned to make the book return to its early '90s roots. The lack of explanation for readers as to the two differing versions of the characters or the future of the book is disheartening, but not surprising. But, hey, there is an Obama cover, so who cares what's inside the comic, right?

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