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Younger But Not As Bloody

by Steve Johnson

Youngblood is back!

Well, one of them is. The man who revived Supreme is now revitalizing Youngblood with a new team, a new rationale and a new structure: one-issue stories, plenty of legacy superheroes and a mix of the old and new.

Shaft, the archer from the original incarnation of Youngblood, finds himself in the unaccustomed role of the "old veteran" as Youngblood reboots under the sponsorship of Waxy Doyle, the 1940s superhero called the Waxman. Doyle once told his old comrade Supreme, "I mean, fighting crime with wax? What was I thinking? Went into the furniture polish business instead and made a friggin' fortune!"

But according to writer Alan Moore, Doyle still feels a nostalgia for the good old days of superheroing. And if he can't do it himself, he can use his millions to do it by proxy.

The new Youngblood boasts five members besides Shaft, all Moore creations. Some have been seen before in the pages of Supreme, the flagship title of the Moore-designed "Awesome Universe" which stretches back through sixty years of unpublished comics.

Doc Rocket is the granddaughter of the original Doc Rocket, a comrade of Waxman in the old Allied Supermen of America, Moore's version of the Justice Society. She has superspeed, which Moore hopes to use in a few unexpected ways, such as having her change clothes on the way to the site of a crime, possibly by dodging behind telephone poles or parked cars.

"Twilight and Suprema are both in similar positions, in that they're both junior super heroines from the '60s, who both have been, for separate reasons, been out of circulation in the equivalent of suspended animation for 20 or so years in each," Moore said. "And they're both only recently returned to the world of the '90s. And their reactions are different. Twilight I see as somebody who's very down-to-earth and practical. She is basically adapting to the times. Her new costume -- basically, she's pretty sensible -- she' still the person that she was, she's always been a practical and sensible person. But she's adapted to the times a lot more. And she's got an outfit that doesn't look quite so childish as her '60s one. She's decided that, you know, that's passed its sell-by date, and she needs a new look.

"Suprema is completely different. Suprema has got a sort of Puritan arrogance. She's sort of like Nancy Drew with super powers or something. And, to her, if the rest the world has changed and she's remained the same, it's because the rest of the world is just wrong. She's the only yardstick that she measures it by. She sees everybody else as just -- they're impolite, they're ill-mannered, they're rude, they wear their skirts too short -- it's stuff that's shocking to her, and, unlike Twilight, she refuses to do along with it. She treats everything as some sort of Girl Scout exercise with her in charge. Even if that's not the situation at all. So there's quite a bit of friction between her and the rest of the team.

"Twilight has a sympathetic take on her because they've known each other a long time, and she sort of understands why Suprema is how she is. But everybody else hates her. Because she's basically insufferable. The problem is, she's also omnipotent. So it's not like just having somebody with a snooty attitude. If you've got someone with a snooty attitude who is omnipotent, then it's a bit more of a problem. So that's an angle that we play up.

Then there are two Youngbloods we haven't seen anywhere yet:

Big Brother is the adopted son of Waxy Doyle. He's a black guy in a wheelchair named Leonard "who's got a bit of a chip on his shoulder for quite a lot of reasons, really," as Moore says. Leonard has 2 or 3 robots of different sizes and they're all called Big Brother. He sits inside the robots, which have a variety of functions; the Big Brother bots act as Youngblood's vehicle and in some cases their headquarters, since some of the robots are so big that they actually have living quarters inside them.

And Johnny Panic, well, ... "he's kind of like a rave party on legs. He mainly relies on a kind of light show that he's worked into his costume, that gives him the potential to create hologram images and stuff like that. He also has a gun which fires a variety of different sorts of pharmaceutics. So it's like a Chemical Generation superhero, sort of, with his own light show. There's other stuff in his background that we're playing our cards close to our chest, to start with," Moore said.

Moore intends to tell single-issue stories for at least the first six issues of the new Youngblood.

"What I want to do is recapture the kind of very simple and complicated clean energy that those books had. But that is not saying those awful words, 'Let's make this a fun comic!' Which generally means, 'let's do something that would have been lame even if it had appeared in the 1970's,' you know. What we're trying to do is to come up with a superhero team that works, that has many elements of classic superhero teams, but is re-invented in a 90's context."

"The first issue, we've got -- it's a 30-pager, the first issue -- and we've got an entity, an alien entity, called the Occupant. That's the main storyline, with the new team going into action against this bodiless alien entity.

"And eventually they go up against an evil version of themselves. When I say eventually, I mean issue #2 actually. So that's what I'm working through at the moment, actually. "Badblood." We've got -- I've got ideas for the first six issues, they're not exactly what order.

"There'll probably be a 1990s, much older, and more evil and decayed version of the Professor Night villain, Jack-A-Dandy, who we showed in the Supreme with the Professor Night. We have this guy that looks like the label of the Johnny Walker bottle. He's been in the asylum a bit since then. He's probably picked up all sorts of new bad habits. I just like the idea of an evil dandy. That might be issue #3."

"Issue #4 would probably be a story where you get -- and Christ knows why or how this should happen -- but for some reason, I haven't figured it out yet, you're going to get Youngblood back in the old west, while a team of western characters is displaced to the present day. So you have to have both teams solving each other's problems. So you'll have Youngblood in the old west while you'll have a group of the western characters that I created in Judgment Day, as a kind of wild west Youngblood in the present day, for an issue. That sounds pretty stupid -- but so are most of the plots that I've come up with. But I think that will be fun."

"Then we've got an outer space drama for the next one. And we've come up with this creature. No, it's not even a creature -- this sort of, this problem, this menace that's just called the Space Goat. The Goat. And it's sort of, it's like, the idea of Galactus "eating planets" is pretty tame compared to this Space Goat idea that we've come up with. It's not actually a goat, but it's called a goat because it'll eat anything. And it just sort of, it's eating its way through the universe, one solar system at a time. Very patiently and very implacably. I've got good scientific stuff to back this all up with."

"Then the sixth issue, we've got planned a crossover -- might be a fight, might be an alliance, who knows? -- between Youngblood and the League of Infinity. Probably including all of the new League of Infinity members that I've just introduced in Supreme #61. I've just introduced a bunch of new ones, including Mata Hari, Wilhelm Reich, who's called Orgone Lad, and also a teen-age Siegfried. So, they'll probably be in the League of Infinity by the time we get to the crossover in number 6.

"After that, your guess is as good as mine."

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