Young Heroes in Love #1 (1997)

Young Heroes in Love #1 (June, 1997)
“Your Lips!  Your Eyes!  Your Nuclear Breath Vision!”
Writer – Dan Raspler
Penciller – Dev Madan
Inker – Keith Champagne
Letterer – Bill Oakley
Colorist – Scott Baumann
Associate Editor – Ruben Diaz
Editor – Frank Pittarese
Cover Price: $1.75

Gonna be checking out a semi-obscure one, from a time in DC known for launching semi-obscure books… some of which we’ve covered here.  The late 1990’s were a very strange time in DC where they appeared to be trying new things… integrating creator-owned characters and concepts into the mainstream (shared) DC Universe… which is the case here.  As you can see by the indicia below… the Young Heroes in Love are copyright Raspler and Madan.  They do tie in to the main DCU… featuring appearances from Superman… and even a #1,000,000 issue to tie-in with DC One Million!

This sadly wasn’t long for the world… much like those other semi-obscure launches of the day.  I’m thinking about things we’ve discussed here like Chase and Major Bummer… though there are more… things like Chronos, and Creeper… all decently fun while they lasted.

Anyhoo… without further ado, let’s get into the sex, lies… and superheroics of Young Heroes in Love!

We open with a trio of new-to-us heroes hanging out atop a roof.  The “big” one is codenamed Thunderhead, and he is admiring his new superheroing togs while chatting with teammate Off-Ramp.  Monstergirl is also with them, but is mostly ignoring their inane banter.  The subject changes and they begin to discuss their new team-leader, who is apparantly a “total pro”.  During this, Thunderhead breaks the golden rule of the superhero set, and refers to Off-Ramp by his real name!  Well, that just won’t do at all!  Monstergirl gives of T-Head a pop-quiz on secret identities before we…

… Shift scenes to another member of the team… Junior.  He is changing from his civvies into his superhero costume, when the “camera” pans out to reveal that he is only a few inches tall… and his mom is driving him to his “superhero meeting”, how adorable.

Next up we meet the leader of this group, Hard Drive who is telling a girl called Bonfire why she cannot be part of the team.  He questions her commitment and her experience… and she uses her, um… pyrokinesis to fire a shot in his direction.  He easily dodges it, however, this outburst (no pun intended) tells him she’s ready to join up!  Junior arrives on the scene, makes some “little” puns, and the trio take to the sky to meet up with their teammates.

On the roof, the six young heroes do the meet and greet thing… along with checking out each others hot bodies… and we learn a bit more about their powersets.  Thunderhead has super-strength (and/or the ability to turn his brain into solid rock, har har), Monstergirl can morph into a… monster, and Off-Ramp… well, we’ll find out in a bit.  Junior is their super-spy, because he can sneak into places undetected, natch.

It looks as though Thunderhead and Bonfire hit it off almost immediately.  There’s definite attraction/tension between them… which they do not get the opportunity to explore, because Hard Drive informs the gang that they will be heading out to collect their seventh and at this point, final member.  At this point, Off-Ramp begins “navigating”… which is basically standing there smoking a cigarette.  During the waiting game, the girls start to chat.  Bonfire immediately asks about Thunderhead’s story… while, Monstergirl wants to know all about Hard Drive.

We get a bit of backstory on Thunderhead… he never really dreamed about being a superhero… his passion was for music.  Sadly, his hands and fingers grew far too large to aptly manipulate a guitar…

Off-Ramp decides he’s figured out their “route” and the team assembles around him.  They head into the alley, and we are introduced to Roadshow, Off-Ramp’s ride… and best friend.

Inside the car, Off-Ramp announces their destination… Chicoutimi, Canada… which he claims is about a dozen miles outside the arctic circle… but if he’s talking about Chicoutimi, Saguenay, Canada… it’s closer to 1,255 miles outside the arctic circle.  Anyhoo, that doesn’t much matter here… either way, it’s gonna be a long drive.  Or is it?  Here we learn that Off-Ramp is the “king of the shortcut” and can open portals… or off-ramps, allowing them to drive via time travel!

The gang enters the portal, and no sooner arrive that their snow-covered destination… where they (and we) meet their seventh member… Frostbite, who kinda looks like somebody stuck Namor in the freezer and left him there for a few weeks.

We get another round of introductions here, and learn that Frostbite is unaffected by the cold… which, ya know… with a name like Frostbite, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.  Perhaps most interesting bit here is there appears to be an instant spark between he and Bonfire.  The pair both go silent, and just gaze into each other’s eyes.

They all pile into Roadshow, and on the drive home Off-Ramp tells the story of how he and Hard Drive met.  They were both in the same car race up in Glouster, when there was a fiery wreck among the drivers.  Through use of both of their power sets, they were able to save every last racer there.

By this point, the team arrives at their new warehouse headquarters.  As they get comfortable, Monstergirl approaches Bonfire to ask about the obvious connection she had with Frostbite… and warns that his cold and her heat could be quite the steamy combination.  Meanwhile, Thunderhead and Junior are discussing T’s chances with the fiery redhead.  Moments pass, and Frostbite corners Bonfire… and wants nothing more than to discuss their feelings toward one another.  Luckily, or unluckily… Hard Drive pops his head in and requests an audience with Bonfire.

He takes her aside and informs her that Thunderhead appears to be interested in her.  He then… suggests that she maybe consider romantically pairing with Thunderhead.  She is a bit repulsed… not about Thunderhead, but the blatant abuse of power her team leader is displaying.  He continues, telling her while Frostbite is physically compatible… he feels that Thunderhead is a more “appropriate” mate for her.  She flatly refuses… however, we’re about to learn there’s a lot more to Hard Drive than we’d thought.  He uses his power of suggestion to change her mind…

Later the team assembles for their first official meeting.  It is here they receive the name “The Young Heroes”.  After Hard Drive’s stirring speech, Thunderhead kinda fumbles a bit… to which Off-Ramp prods him to “just ask her”.  This leads to Thunderhead asking Bonfire if she might want to “go on patrol” with him.  She eagerly accepts…

This pleases Hard Drive to no end… and he gleefully proclaims that this is the start of something BIG!

We wrap up the issue with some pillow talk between Hard Drive and… Monstergirl, as they celebrate the fact that they “really did it”.  And I assume by “it” they mean putting together the team… and, um… having sex.

What a strange and fun read this was.  It’s been a few years since I last read this… and I’m quite pleasantly surprised at how well it’s held up.

I mean, the thing does kinda scream “late 90’s”… from character design to concept.  Looking at characters like my man Off-Ramp, he just looks like a sorta slacker type… kinda like I did during those years.  Hanging out in alleys and roofs is like something I would have done too!

The writing here is a lot of fun… and Raspler has very natural and organic voices for these Young Heroes.  They’ve got their eccentricities… which is to be expected, and the dialogue was great.  The art… whoo… perfect fit for a book like this.  This to me falls somewhere between DC Animated Series style, and Darwyn Cooke.  I’m thinking specifically about the last page (posted above) when mentioning Cooke… the scene with Hard Drive and Monstergirl in bed looks (at least to me) very Cooke.

Now… let’s discuss that last word of the title… Love.  This is clearly going to be a big push for this series… the thing that makes it stand out… and, gotta say… so far, so good.  It makes sense to me that these Young Heroes might just… ya know… check each other out when they first meet.  It’s human nature to feel attraction… and I think it was handled here quite well.  These attractions all feel rather benign and innocent at the offset.  The only “dirty” thing thus far is Hard Drive getting into Bonfire’s head and messing about.

I appreciated the tentativeness displayed by Thunderhead.  The fact that he needed encouragement from both Junior and Off-Ramp to make his move was really neat, and brought me right back to high school.  Bonfire and Monstergirl chatting about the boys was also nice to see.  I mean, so far, there really is no reason given for this team to assemble other than “we have powers, let’s team up”.  Without a specified mission, what harm is there in fraternizing a bit?

I would be quick to recommend this… however, it may be somewhat difficult to come across.  There have been no collected editions… and I’m not sure we’ll ever get one due to DC properties appearing… and the creators holding the rights to the Young Heroes.  It’s not up anywhere digitally either… and again, I wouldn’t hold my breath.  If you want to check these out, you’re only bet is via single (don’t call ’em floppies!) issue format.  By the way, big thanks to Joe, Laurel and Zawisza for the fun twitter-chat on the “floppy” situation!

Anyhoo… so, yeah… single-issue only… are they worth tracking down?  Yeah.  If you can find this at a decent price, it is definitely worth your time.  Might not rock your socks… but it is fun, different, and very well crafted.  Worth hitting dem bins for!

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