Today, we go back 25 years ago to the debut of the incredibly offbeat DC comics superhero romance title, Young Heroes in Love.

This is “Look Back,” where every four weeks of a month, I will spotlight a single issue of a comic book that came out in the past and talk about that issue (often in terms of a larger scale, like the series overall, etc.). Each spotlight will be a look at a comic book from a different year that came out the same month X amount of years ago. The first spotlight of the month looks at a book that came out this month ten years ago. The second spotlight looks at a book that came out this month 25 years ago. The third spotlight looks at a book that came out this month 50 years ago. The fourth spotlight looks at a book that came out this month 75 years ago. The occasional fifth week (we look at weeks broadly, so if a month has either five Sundays or five Saturdays, it counts as having a fifth week) looks at books from 20/30/40/60/70/80 years ago.

Today, we head back to April 1997 for the debut of DC’s fascinating (but not terribly long-lived) superhero/romance comic book hybrid, Young Heroes in Love #1, by Dan Raspler, Dev Madan and Keith Champagne.

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The fascinating thing about the title of the series is that it is a spoof of a title of a spoof of a genre. In 1982, Garry Marshall did a film parody of doctor soap operas (most prominently being General Hospital, but there have been others over the years) called Young Doctors in Love. Thus, this series, a superhero/romance hybrid, used a spoof of that film’s title. This was a really unusual series and I imagine that if it were not for the fact that Dan Raspler had been on staff at DC as an editor (he was the editor on Grant Morrison’s JLA, for instance), this likely would not have actually been approved (especially the unusual arrangement where Raspler and artist Dev Madan maintained the copyright on the characters in this series, as seen in the indica of the first issue…

The first issue opens with a riff on the notion that superheroes, when you look at them, really are often very attractive young men and women squeezed into very tight and often skimpy outfits and so when new superheroes Off-Ramp, Thunderhead and Monstergirl get together, Off-Ramp can’t help but ogle a bit at Monstergirl, which leads to Thunderhead then calling Off-Ramp by his real name, which is a superhero no-no, of course (well, except for modern DC stories, where every issue is, “Hey Kal,” “Hey Bruce,” “Hey Diana”)…

We then meet the team’s leader, Hard Drive, along with team members Bonfire and Junior (the twist with Junior is that his “superpower” is that he is six inches tall and that’s it. He can’t grow back to normal size)…

Bonfire and Thunderhead quickly start flirting with each other.

But then we meet the final member of the team, the mystical being known as Frostbite…

His line about it being an “attractive group” would actually be an important point going forward. At the end, Junior makes the reference to the Real World that I alluded to in my header description, as that really is sort of what this series was about, a Real World starring superheroes.

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However, we soon see the major twist of the series (well, a couple of them, I guess). Bonfire and Thunderhead keep up their flirting and Junior tells Thunderhead that he should go for it with Bonfire, but Bonfire and Frostbite have a strong connection, as well…

Hard Drive doesn’t like that, as he thinks that a love triangle in the group would mess with the team unity, and so he tells Bonfire that she should pursue a relationship with Thunderhead only. She, of course, does not like being TOLD who to date and that is when we learn that Hard Drive, who seemingly to this point had Superman-esque powers, also had TELEPATHIC powers as he uses those powers to control Bonfire’s mind and MAKE her be interested in Thunderhead!


The issue then ends with two of the team members in bed together, but not Bonfire and Thunderhead, who started HEAVILY flirting after Hard Drive messed with her mind, but Hard Drive and Monstergirl, who are obviously already acquainted with each other despite supposedly only meeting in this issue…

As I wrote about a couple of years ago, the big thing, in retrospect, about this series was the fact that it eventually turned out that Frostbite was bisexual and he and Off-Ramp had a bit of a thing (this being a 1990s mainstream comic book, that “thing” was kept extremely vague, but that was a lot more than most other mainstream comics of the era). Eventually, the team turned on Hard Drive, but he mostly escaped any justice for his actions. In fact, he ended up becoming the Governor of Connecticut. This was a bold and interesting series, and it’s too bad we haven’t seen anything more from these characters since.

If you folks have any suggestions for May (or any other later months) 2012, 1997, 1972 and 1947 comic books for me to spotlight, drop me a line at [email protected]! Here is the guide, though, for the cover dates of books so that you can make suggestions for books that actually came out in the correct month. Generally speaking, the traditional amount of time between the cover date and the release date of a comic book throughout most of comic history has been two months (it was three months at times, but not during the times we’re discussing here). So the comic books will have a cover date that is two months ahead of the actual release date (so October for a book that came out in August). Obviously, it is easier to tell when a book from 10 years ago was released, since there was internet coverage of books back then.

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