TITLE: Youngblood #0
YEAR: December 1992
COMPANY: Image Comics
Creator/Writer/Penciller: Rob Liefeld
Penciller: Dan Fraga
Inks: Danny K. Miki
Color Design: Brian Murray
Lettering: Kurt Hathaway
Technical Assistant: Richard Horie
Color Separations: Digital Chameleon
Editor: Eric Stephenson for Malibu Comics
Back in 1987, writer/artist Rob Liefeld was just starting out in the comic book industry. While his first major work would not be published until the “Hawk and Dove” DC Comics series of 1988, his work would appear as a backup feature in the 1987 one-shit Megaton: Explosion issue from Megaton Comics where he debuted a superhero group known as Youngblood.
While Liefeld had said that Youngblood was based partially on his 1991 plan for a new “Teen Titans” series for DC Comics, Leifeld also said the series was based on an idea that if superheroes existed, they would be treated like movie stars and athletes with endorsement deals, TV show appearances, etc.
But what we know about “Youngblood” is that issue #1 was the first Image Comics publication and at the time of its release, it was the highest selling independent comic book published.
It was also a comic book series that never truly gained any serious footing because issues had an inconsistent schedule (for example: issue #4 came out on February 1, 1993, Issue #5 came out on July 1, 1993 and Issue #6 came out on June 1, 1994) and also, because of a fallout between Leifeld and Image Comics.
And depending on how you feel about “Youngblood” and Leifeld’s work, when there was an announcement that a lot of creative talents were leaving the big comic book publishers to create Image Comics, I was very supportive and wanted to see them all succeed.
Back in December 1992, with three issues of “Youngblood” vol. 1 being published, issue #0 came out to help introduce the original team and how it connects to the series, “Brigade” and the series would also have a connection with Leifeld’s other series “Bloodstrike”.
The issue #0 begins with Youngblood, headed by Battlestone along with Riptide, Chapel, Die-Hard and a few other team members taking on Kussain’s troops.
While the team was able to defeat the troops, two other members of Youngblood want to take the supply from underground bunkers. Battestone tells Col. Boggs that their job is finished and the place is probably booby trapped but Boggs and a Raines, young member defy Battlestone decide to go deeper in the underground tunnels.
The two run into a booby trap and are blown up. Gamble wants to go back in there for them but Battlestone tells him to stay. Gamble challenges Battlestone’s authority of not doing enough to stop them and Battlestone ends up socking Gamble in the head.
Unfortunately, when Chapel goes to check on him, Gamble is dead.
This leads to Diehard pulling rank and the two fight. Chapel gives Battlestone a choice, to surrender himself to authorities or Diehard forcefully restrain him.
When the govt. committee go into what had happen in regards to Battlestone, because it’s a political election year, the committee decides not to do anything against Colonel Stone and because Gamble and Boggs were clones, they can easily be replaced. Colonel Stone is terminated from Youngblood.
14 months later and Shaft is brought in by Sentinel and Cougar to meet the all new Youngblood team which consists of Vogue, De-Hard, Bedrock, Combat, Chapel and Link.
And that is how the storyline leads to first issue of “Youngblood”.
If anything, this zero issue was necessary to introduce to readers of why Colonel Stone started Brigade and why he has misgivings about the government. And to introduce the troubling team dynamics of the former Youngblood team led by Battlestone as featured in the comic book series “Brigade”.
But also, the comments which Battlestone curses the government for re-animating corpses is a connection to the series “Bloodstrike”, a series about an elite team of government operatives who were killed in action but resurrected by military scientists.
And now, must fight and go through ongoing treatments to stay alive and are unable to leave the project or opt out of going on mission.
So, there is a deep connection with all three comic book series.
Overall, “Youngblood” issue zero was an important release for fans of “Youngblood”, “Brigade” and “Bloodstrike” but most importantly, readers finally get to learn why Battlestone is no longer with Youngblood.