Liefeld Week Book Report – Brigade #1
To say that the 90’s were a prime example of what not to do in comics would be an understatement. As a young Harkness, I spent more than my fair share of time in the comic shop located conveniently right next to my house, and would often be found perusing every shelf they had. Being a mere child of 7 however, I was strapped for cash, as in I had none, and was hard pressed to be able to take any comic home with me. Luckily, the owner of said shop (Imagination Comics) was very kind to young Arthur Harkness, and let me stay in there as long as I wanted and read everything for as long as I wanted. Jealous? Well you shouldn’t be. The year was 1992…and things were not so great in the world of comics.
First off, I must say that with reading any sort of book, the top priority for me is the story. I rarely pay attention to author names and in the case of comics, author and artist names. I know this may sound blasphemous, but trust me, if the story attracts me enough, you can damn well be sure I’ll remember the person who wrote or drew it. That is just the way I am, and I hope that doesn’t offend you. Mind you, I was half way through Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban before I could even remember J.K.’s name. I’m sorry, I was just too into waiting for Voldemort to come back to pay attention to who put these magical words onto paper. Now, in terms of comics, I honestly cannot tell you how many writers and artists I have memorized, but I can tell you it is appallingly low. I should really start paying more attention.
That out of the way, as a young Harkness, I was spending too much time in that comic shop reading certain stories or sagas or collections or whatever term you feel like using, to really care who wrote or drew it. I was also a kid, so let that play into it as well. If I had known ahead of time, I might have made some more discerning choices in my reading material. For one, I probably would have paid more attention to the works of one Rob Liefeld. Now if you listened to the most recent podcast we did, the other geeks had a lot more to say about him than I did. I for one have not been super exposed to his art/stories, but I wish I was….for multiple reasons. So, in honor of this monumental week where we are honoring Mr. Liefeld, I was tasked with hunting down some issues of Brigade to review, and hunt I did.
Brigade tells the tale of a group of men and women who look like they have been made almost entirely out of goddamn muscle. I’m almost positive that the one dude’s dick was doing curls on a two page spread. THAT’S how many muscles there are being thrown around here. Brigade is led by a man who’s hair begins with a skull, and ends draped across your girlfriend. I’m surprised we had paper capable of containing that much ridiculousness. His name is Battlestone, and my brain is having so much trouble comprehending it. Former leader of Youngblood, Battlestone is the current leader and founder of Brigade, which consists of multiple other people who I dare not name for fear of my heart stopping. I’ll give you one…Coldsnap…do with that as you will. I personally fucking love it. Do NOT get my jokes and slightly snide remarks mistaken, I am in a love/hate relationship with this book, so praise and shit talk is one in the same. I love to hate it, and hate to love it if that makes sense to you.
The thing about Brigade is that it seems to be a replacement for Youngblood, which I have never had the good fortune of reading. I do have to thank them though because if they had not fucked up, Brigade would never have come to fruition, and I would not have had the (mis)fortune of the first three pages of Brigade #1 consisting almost entirely of men in bikinis….Christ. It’s like a sneak preview of the Marvel swimsuit edition featuring the people you don’t want to see. The 90’s seems to have had a weird obsession with showing dudes in swimsuits. Am I making too much of this? Probably…moving on. The first few panels deal with two members of the team realizing they have both been sleeping with the same girl, and a fight breaks out between them….which is solved a few panels later with them walking off into a darkened room with each other to do god knows what. I didn’t ask, and I would probably be better off not knowing. We meet some more members of the team, and then a situation breaks loose, which our team of meat is more than ready to fucking murder the shit out of.
At this point, we are introduced to our full team assembled and in costume. I cannot even describe how epic they look. It’s as if they’re all made of shadows and hair. So fucking metal. If I were to describe just one of them, it would look as if Animal Man and Booster Gold fused inside the teleportation machine from the Fly and gave birth to a being so superior to the human race that I’m sure he can fertilize women just by looking at them. That is what we are dealing with here. The costumes the women wear look so uncomfortable that they must be made entirely out of rashes and vulnerable spots. I feel so bad for these “heroes.” Yet, I feel lucky enough to be able to read this. I am all about this comic you guys. The story itself is borderline offensive to the senses, yet I am enthralled nonetheless.
The sheer power that is etched into these pages is nuts, and it has been keeping me entertained beyond what I had originally imagined. The battles so far have been made up almost entirely of people dropping other people from high distances, and other guys tackling people down sets of stairs, which is almost exactly the way that all of my fights end up. Page after page of bullshit later, we come to the end of the first issue, with Battlestone getting blown the fuck up. Is he dead? Is he alive? He’s alive, they don’t wait till next issue to tell you. He emerges from the rubble with glowing red eyes, and we are treated to his immense power in first person. If he could survive that, then why was he tackling guys down stairs? Because he wants to toy with them first. Oh Battlestone, you sly dog. After we see him get back up, we are flown to another place where someone has been watching the battle on a monitor, and in a joyous moment, he lets us all know that he has finally found warriors capable of testing his own strength. His name? Genocide of course….my heart….I can’t take it.
After I reached the conclusion of Brigade #1, my mind immediately came to 2 conclusions. First off, this book is amazing in ways that I could have never imagined. Second, I now fully understand why the 90’s almost killed the comic book industry. Some say it was the readers and so called collectors who made comics nearly worthless, but with stuff like this being put on shelves, it’s hard to just blame them. I mean don’t get me wrong, Liefeld really does have a certain knack for art, but it just may not be to the taste of everyone. I personally think it fits this style of story, but his art style does not fit in with say, a sane story. What he draws needs to be included in a batshit, over the top presentation that befits a talent like him. Don’t take this as a knock Mr. Liefeld, as I do believe you are very talented and could definitely draw circles around me, but Brigade is a crazy example of misshapen bodies and sexual innuendoes….and I love you for that. Here’s to you Mr. Liefeld, you marvelous bastard.
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