Concept and Creation
Youngblood was created by Rob Liefeld when he was in high school in the mid-1980s. By 1987, Rob wanted to pitch Youngblood to some new independent comic book publishers and landed a job at Megaton Comics where Youngblood was first published before they made their way to Image Comics in 1992. Rob was a fan of Marvel's Avengers and DC Comics' Teen Titans (the Wolfman/Perez era) and the Legion of Superheroes, and based on those interests he combined them to form Youngblood (not to be confused with Project: Youngblood from Eclipse Comics). The original Youngblood members in 1987 were Sentinel, Sonik, Cougar, Brahma, Riptide, Psi-Fire, and Photon.
By 1991, another publication origin for Youngblood came as a new Teen Titans proposal series for DC Comics featuring Speedy, Harlequin, a pair of Kh'undian warriors, a S.T.A.R. Labs android and an unknown character. That proposal was rejected. At that same year Liefeld left Marvel over their strain relationship and merchandising rights for the success from his tenure on New Mutants and X-Force. When he became one of the founders of Image and with his imprint studio, Extreme Studios, Liefeld revived his early Youngblood team and integrated it with his Teen Titans proposal to create new characters to expand the team roaster: Shaft, Badrock, Die Hard, Chapel, Vogue, and Combat.
Liefeld's idea for Youngblood as celebrity superheroes:
"...if superheroes really did exist, they would be treated much the same way as movie stars and athletes. The series, therefore, depicts the superhero members of Youngblood not only as they participate in adventures fighting crime and evil, but navigating the world of celebrity endorse deals, TV show appearances, agents, managers, and the perceived pressures of celebrity life. They live in a world where they are the big celebrities with big paychecks and business managers. In the Youngblood world, the world powers race is not nuclear but genetic engineering...who can create bigger, better super-men."
With a large team of superheroes on Youngblood, Liefeld came up with a solution of splitting the team into two fractions: the new characters became the home front team for domestic problems and the original team became the overseas "away" team for international crisis.
Since Youngblood's debut as the first comic book published by Image Comics on April 17th 1992, it has gained a controversial legacy over the years for bad artwork, dialogue, storytelling, and later creative disputes from different high-profile comic book writers like Kurt Busiek and Alan Moore.
As of August 1st 2019, Rob Liefeld announced on his Facebook page that he wants nothing to do with Youngblood over a tricky exchange of rights to the characters when Liefeld left Image to form Awesome Entertainment in 1997. Details include selling Youngblood for movie deals that never manifested and toy deals to a third party - Scott Rosenburg - who then sold the Youngblood property to Andrew Rev, & Terrific Production LLC. Image Comics will no longer publish Youngblood or any involvement. On April 17th 2020, Rob Liefeld announced that he is currently developing a "replacement for Youngblood" in the form of a new creation called "EKO 92".
Youngblood is a team of government sanction superheroes created by Director Alexander Graves on behalf of the US government after the existence of Operation: Knightstrike, a top secret task force, was broadcast on network television. In 1984, our heads of state decided that they needed a powerful public force; a force that could represent the government to the people. They also needed an edge to put our nation ahead of the other world powers. By the end of the year, Youngblood was underway. With two task forces, one for domestic problems, the other for international crisis. Youngblood quickly gained celebrated status with the general public.
Original Lineup (Image Comics)
There are made up by two teams: the Home Team led by Shaft (formerly Battlestone) and the Away Team led by Sentinel.
Home Team (Youngblood):
Their first mission was to capture The Four, a team of super-villains, who were trying to rescue two of their own.
Away Team (Team Younblood):
They were sent to Kuwait for their first mission to stop the dictator of the country. Psi-Fire, who suffered psychic troubles, killed the man instead of capturing him. Sentinel asked to "clean" the mess and they went back to their base where they discovered a man put on stasis in a laboratory. This was their first encounter with Prophet.
Soon both Youngblood teams and Prophet join forces against an alien invasion from the D'Khay and their leader Darkthornn.
Youngblood has encountered numerous superheroes in the Image Comics Universe: Supreme, Glory, Shadowhawk, WildC.A.T.s, Spawn, Savage Dragon, Brigade, Bloodstrike, New Men. Youngblood even team-up with X-Force. Even Badrock had a team-up with Spider-Man. Other adversaries Youngblood fought against include Showdown, Cybernet, Crypt, Giger, and Greenscape.
At some point later, Youngblood's team structure was splintered into different factions - Team Youngblood (Youngblood's elite members) and Bloodpool (a government training program designed to train teenage candidates to enter the Youngblood program). Within the ranks, some Youngblood operatives have left and rejoined the team for numerous reasons. One scandalous example included Ripetide being fired from team for posing nude in Pussicat Magazine.
1998 Lineup (Awesome Comics):
In the Judgement Day event, Knightsabre was accused of killing Riptide. A superphero trial was held at Supreme's Citadel Supreme to keep the public out until they had all the facts. In reality, Youngblood leader Sentinel murdered Riptide over the possession of an magical book that can rewrite one's fate. The book was the property of Storybook Smith. Youngblood disbanded because Knightsabre was really Director Graves' illegitimate son and that the media attention would ruin the team's reputation. The government formed S.O.S. - Special Operations Strikeforce - to replace Youngblood as a new super-human task-force led by the Savage Dragon.
After Judgement Day, the Government pulled the plug on Youngblood's finances and, effectively, the team disbanded and gone their separate ways. Sentinel was imprisoned at Supreme's Citadel in the Hell of Mirrors for the murder of Riptide. Knightsabre went back to Australia in disgust at how quickly his former teammates had been willing to assume his guilt. Combat went back to the stars, Vogue returned to Russia (where she dealt with an ex-KGB general Alexander Stroika and his Youngblood counterpart team Redblood), and Badrock quit being a superhero to got to Hollywood to concentrate on a career in the media. Piece by piece, by the time Judgement Day is concluded, the entire team has gone. Only Shaft remains, with a feeling off being cheated out of something he'd worked to build. He feels it shouldn't ended like that.
After the Riptide murder trial, however, Shaft is approached by Waxey Doyle, formerly known as the Golden Age superhero Waxman, but since retired from crime fighting to become a billionaire in the furniture polish business. Since he still sometimes gets a hankering to contribute to his old career in some way, he offers Shaft the use of a mansion he never uses, the House of Wax, as a new base of operations around which to construct a new Youngblood, a team which Doyle is willing to finance. His one proviso is that space be found in the group for his adopted son, Leonard, who always wanted to be a superhero. Although more than slightly dubious about that last part, Shaft felt he can't look a gift horse in the mouth, and accepted his offer. Shaft manage to only recruit Twilight, Johnny Panic, Doc Rocket, and Suprema.
Shaft's new Youngblood team had some short lived adventures that included a confrontation with Stormhead, the Occupant, Sentinel and his evil Youngblood team Badblood, and Jack-A-Dandy and his Jackettes.
2003 Lineup (Arcade Comics):
Long since the government-sponsored super-team Youngblood dissembled due to the increasing number of super-powered individuals. Most of the former members now retreated into a life of fame and decadence. Only one-time team leader Shaft continues the crime fighting. He's caught by surprise when Director Graves comes out of the woodwork with a proposition: A membership in the newly formed group. But only one position is available and the former teammates has to fight 'till death for it.
2008 Lineup (Image Comics):
NSC Agent Douglas McGarry reforms Youngblood and to help give the super-team credibility he has them be followed around as a reality television program. Agent McGarry not only provided Youngblood with a new secret headquarters, The Bubble, but also their own team-made adversaries - Mayhem, Inc. - consisting of old Youngblood enemies (Giger, Blackrock, Warwolf, Gage, and Poppy). And when the world thought the old Youngblood team disappeared, a new team of replacements were formed to keep the reality show going consisting Sundance, a new Sentinel, Hatch, Jamm, and Spyke. They soon clashed with The Allies villain Florax the Dominator and Supreme Televillain. The old team found themselves a new member named Scion, who needed their help against Spacehunter.
In the historic landmark 20th anniversary of Image Comics, Rob Liefeld's Youngblood returned again to the comic book world under the new creative team by screenwriter John McLaughlin, up-and-coming artist Jon Malin, and Rob Liefeld.
In this new 2012 incarnation of Youngblood the team is followed by a newspaper reporter named Gail Cook.
- Vogue (Petra Gomez)
- Dolante Murray
- Doc Rocket
In the historic landmark 25th anniversary of Image Comics, Rob Liefeld's Youngblood returned again for the third time under the new creative team by Chad Bowers and newcommer artist Jim Towe. Towe's fanart design for Youngblood landed him the career opportunity of a lifetime that would lead the path to being a professional comic book artist.
In this new 2017 incarnation of Youngblood, there have been some significant changes from the original team. Diehard and Vogue are now the President of the United States and the First Lady respectively. Badrock is suffering a disease from his own powers, and Shaft was in a federal prison. The reason's for Youngblood's disbandment was caused by a group called the Bloodstream.
Meanwhile, new team of heroes calling themselves Youngblood, consisting of Supreme, Doc Rocket, and a new Sentinel named Dolante Murray. They were formed by a new heroine calling herself Vogue, who needs their assistance to uncover the disappearance of missing young superheroes from the Help! app including a Vogue's colleague, Man-Up. With Shaft joins the new team, he learns that Help! app creator, BryneTech, was an anagram for Youngblood's old nemesis Cybernet, who was abducting the app's top ten heroes for superhuman trafficking.
Soon after confronting Cybernet and Diehard, who was unaware that he partnered with Cybernet, Youngblood was branded as traitors in the United States and fled the country to help rescue Help app victims. They manage to rescue Man-Up, who temporarily joins the team, and Superstitious. Youngblood then found themselves seeking political asylum in Tokyo, Japan where they have a new secret headquarters and were under the protection of Task. They found themselves battling new threats like Bloodhunter and Sumasshu. They officially become Japan's new international crisis resolution squad called Team Youngblood by the Prime Minister of Japan, Haruka Akamatsu, for their heroics in Japan.
In a single one-shot issue called Extremely Youngblood, Youngblood is seen as preteens.
In Prophet, Youngblood is rechristened as Youngstar in a post-apocalyptic future. Known members include elderly versions of Shaft, Doc Rocket, Badrock, two Diehards, and a new female Chapel.
In Other Media?
There was a proposed animated cartoon series based on Youngblood in the early-1990s, but it didn't pass the demo stage. The show's roster included Shaft, Ripetide, Chapel, Diehard, Troll, Vogue, Sentinel, and Badrock. The test footage is available on YouTube.