They say youth is wasted on the young, and that’s never more true than when it comes to superhuman powers.  With a few rare exceptions (like that Parker kid), a teenager with super-powers tends to get sidelined as a sidekick or wannabe, and even the far-flung future heroes of the Legion get flack for their characteristic idealism and impulsiveness, but that hasn’t stopped the likes of the New Warriors, the Teen Titans, and even Generation X from fighting their respective good fights.  So it was, some years ago, that a headstrong young man assembled his own league of justice in the hopes of overcoming evil and maybe getting famous along the way.  As with many things in the 90s, they never quite lived up to their potential, but like the man said, it’s better to burn out than fade away.  This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Bonfire, Frostbite, Hard Drive, Junior, Monstergirl, Off-Ramp, Thunderhead and Zip-Kid, collectively known as… The Young Heroes!

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Thinking back to my early 20s, it seems like many important things began while waiting in parking lots or on rooftops, and so it is with the saga of the Young Heroes.  Enthusiastic young hero Thunderhead is concerned about his new (and, to be honest, pretty excellent) costume, but his pal Off-Ramp is somewhat preoccupied by their new team-mate, Monstergirl…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Your Lips! Your Eyes! Your Nuclear Breath Vision!” Young Heroes In Love #1(June 1997), p.2, DC Comics Inc.

Our erstwhile Young Heroes are awaiting the arrival of their new leader, Hard Drive, the man with the vision that has brought them together, but Thunderhead, ever the bull in a metaphorical china shop, has forgotten the first rule of super-duping: NO  REAL NAMES.

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Your Lips! Your Eyes! Your Nuclear Breath Vision!” Young Heroes In Love #1 (June 1997), p.3, DC Comics Inc.

Off-Ramp and his friends aren’t the only ones who answered the siren call of heroism that particular morning as, not far away, another Young Hero is about to make his debut…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Your Lips! Your Eyes! Your Nuclear Breath Vision!” Young Heroes In Love #1 (June 1997), p.4, DC Comics Inc.

It may not look like it from here, by the way, but the man called Junior is about to become an integral part of the YH machine, and one of the most heroic members of the team.  He is quickly joined by the super-cute Bonfire and the man that Off-Ramp was so nervous about meeting, the hyper-capable, type-A Hard Drive.

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Your Lips! Your Eyes! Your Nuclear Breath Vision!” Young Heroes In Love #1 (June 1997), p.7, DC Comics Inc.

In a world that already features multiple Justice Leagues, the Titans, half a dozen Green Lanterns and Brother Power, The Geek, the Young Heroes have come together to fight the good fight together.  That doesn’t mean that they’re averse to having a good time however (even at one another’s expense.)

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Your Lips! Your Eyes! Your Nuclear Breath Vision!” Young Heroes In Love (June 1997), p.8, DC Comics Inc.

Indeed, like all young people seeking their way in the world, the Young Heroes are full of ideas, intentions and not a little bit of snark.  Of course, unlike myself and my friends back in the mid-90s, they have a wide array of amazing super-powers to accompany their grand and nebulous plans for greatness.

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Your Lips! Your Eyes! Your Nuclear Breath Vision!” Young Heroes In Love (June 1997), p.9, DC Comics Inc.

Also unlike myself and my 90s friends, Off-Ramp has himself a decent set of wheels, destined to become the Young Heroes primary mode of transportation, beating the hell out of any Quinjet or mere Batmobile…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Your Lips! Your Eyes! Your Nuclear Breath Vision!” Young Heroes In Love #1(June 1997), p.12, DC Comics Inc.

Piling into Roadshow, most of the Young Heroes experience Off-Ramp’s spacial warping powers for the first time, as he turns a corner in New York and ends up thousands of miles away in the Great White North, where Hard Drive has arranged to pick up the last Young Hero.  The addition of that seventh hero, Frostbite, sets the Young Heroes on the road to their destinies (and also sets up more than a little bit of drama, but we’ll get to that soon enough.)

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Your Lips! Your Eyes! Your Nuclear Breath Vision!” Young Heroes In Love #1 (June 1997), p.15, DC Comics Inc.

The immediate fire-and-ice attraction of Bonfire and Frostbite is the first indicator that the Young Heroes might click as more than just a crime-fighting septet, and Bonfire is incredibly excited about their future (as well as completely oblivious to Thunderhead’s crush on her.)  None of this, however, escapes the notice of Hard Drive, the man who has devoted all his resources to creating the next big super-team…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Your Lips! Your Eyes! Your Nuclear Breath Vision!” Young Heroes In Love #1 (June 1997), p.20, DC Comics Inc.

Telekinesis often comes with additional mental powers, as J’onn J’onnzz and Jean Grey would like to remind you, and Bonfire immediately leaves Hard Drive’s presence to seek out the object of her affections…  Thunderhead!  As for Hard Drive, he has romantic and/or carnal concerns of his own…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Your Lips! Your Eyes! Your Nuclear Breath Vision!” Young Heroes In Love #1 (June 1997), p.24, DC Comics Inc.

There’s probably irony in the fact that the team ends up embroiled in a mutated love-hexagon of some sort before they even manage to find a menace to fight, but given their youth (and spandex), it’s quite fitting.  The team sets up a patrol schedule, on the lookout for villainous personages and sundry crime, only to end up with more time to flirt…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Look Before You Leap Into The Telekinetic Prot0-Bomb!” Young Heroes In Love #2 (July 1997), p.2, DC Comics Inc.

They also have time to test their limits and the limits of their new partners (while also flirthing)…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Look Before You Leap Into The Telekinetic Proto-Bomb!” Young Heroes In Love #2 (July 1997), p.4, DC Comics Inc.

Back at headquarters, Hard Drive and Monstergirl have time to break down the team’s readiness, plan for drills and workouts, and even discuss readiness.  She estimates that they can be ready to fight crime within two weeks, while Hard Drive…  has less conservative ideas about their future.

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Look Before You Leap Into The Telekinetic Proto-Bomb!” Young Heroes In Love #2 (July 1997), p.6, DC Comics Inc.

Thanks to Off-Ramp’s spatial abilities (not only can he TRAVEL to any place in the world he likes, he can open smaller portals and conduct surveillance on anywhere as well) Hard Drive quickly isolates a situation which requires superhero assistance, and leads his raw, untested team into action!

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Look Before You Leap Into The Telekinetic Proto-Bomb!” Young Heroes In Love #2 (July 1997), p.15, DC Comics Inc.

Starting what will become a trend with the Young Heroes, Thunderhead accidentally steps right on the heart of the matter by accident, only for his teammates to pretty much ignore his unintentional wisdom.  (Write that down, it’ll come up again later.)  Arriving on the scene, the Heroes confront a giant ectoplasmic mummy carrying a titanic black sword, and set into action.  Hard Drive’s impetuousness works in the team’s favor, as they make short work of the monster, and he steps up for the coup de grace…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Look Before You Leap Into The Telekinetic Proto-Bomb!” Young Heroes In Love #2 (July 1997), p.20, DC Comics Inc.

That’s pronounced “coo du grahss”, and it’s French for “affordable sedan made of fat.”  Or perhaps not.  Keen-eyed herophiles may have noticed a certain lack of scruples by Hard Drive regarding the manipulation of the media, the Young Heroes public image, and indeed, the minds of his compatriots.  As befits any group of young people seeking their way in the world, though, his aren’t the only mind-games in play…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Look Before You Leap Into The Telekinetic Proto-Bomb!” Young Heroes In Love #2 (July 1997), p.22, DC Comics Inc.

Still, though ill-advised and filled with interpersonal intrigue, their first mission is a rousing success, and the Young Heroes find themselves minor media darlings.  They even have a cool souvenir for their headquarters (although Bonfire seems somewhat taken by…  *ahem*…  other sights around the YHHQ…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Two Hearts Beat As One Giant Undead Guy!” Young Heroes In Love #3 (August 1997), p.1, DC Comics Inc.

And even after their successful first bout against perfidiousness and corruption, not all the Young Heroes are on the same page.  Take, for instance, Frostbite, still confused about why the girl he felt such a connection with is bonding with Thunderhead (been there, brother…)

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Two Hearts Beat As One Giant Undead Guy!” Young Heroes In Love #3 (August 1997), p.5, DC Comics Inc.

The rest of the team begins mulling over the problem of their mummy pal (of whom Thunderhead opines, “his remains probably returned to some mummy dimension”), which transitions into a discussion about whether he’s fought other heroes, and then (hilariously) into an analysis of which big-name hero has the best costume…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Two Hearts Beat As One Giant Undead Guy!” Young Heroes In Love #3 (August 1997), p.9, DC Comics Inc.

Bonfire’s expertise in matters metahuman outs her as a superhero fangirl, while Monstergirl is clueless about the metaphorical deep cuts of the cape-and-boots business.  Before they can hash out the ‘Green Lantern vs. Flash’ sartorial debate, though, their new trophy disappears, as the ectoplasm that created it is recalled to it’s source.  Worse still, (at least to Hard Drive’s mind), this this time the Young Heroes are not alone in answering the call to the never-ending battle…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Two Hearts Beat As One Giant Undead Guy!” Young Heroes In Love #3 (August 1997), p.16, DC Comics Inc.

“And I said, what about electronic Superman…  She said, I think that, he looked like a goob.”  The newly electric-blue Man Of Steel and the Young Heroes engage the mummy again, and Frostbite emtombs it in ice, making it impossible for the creature to dissipate and reform.  Having successfully teamed up, Hard Drive decides (with a little prompting from Monstergirl) to float an offer of membership to the greatest superhero of them all, knowing that Superman would raise their media profile exponentially…

It does not go well.

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Two Hearts Beat As One Giant Undead Guy!” Young Heroes In Love #3 (August 1997), p.21, DC Comics Inc.

Breaking down in tears, Hard Drive literally runs away, devastated by what is clearly a rare run-in with rejection.  The Young Heroes and Superman worries about Hard Drive’s stability and fitness for public action, much less leadership of a superhero team.  Fortunately for our heroes, help arrives from an unexpected quadrant…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Manley, Mike (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Cry Me A River Of Nigh-Irresistable Beams!” Young Heroes In Love #4 (September 1997), p.3, DC Comics Inc.

The Man of Steel is satisfied by Zip’s quick thinking lie, and exits, while Bonfire and Frostbite set off to find their lost leader (and also flirt about his use of heat signatures to leave her suggestive messages.)

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Manley, Mike (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Cry Me A River Of Nigh-Irresistable Beams!” Young Heroes In Love #4 (September 1997), p.7, DC Comics Inc.

Unfortunately, their mutual attraction is clearly visible to bystanders, one of whom is the already-emotionally compromised Hard Drive himself…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Manley, Mike (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Cry Me A River Of Nigh-Irresistable Beams!” Young Heroes In Love #4 (September 1997), p.8, DC Comics Inc.

While two relationships are forcibly altered by a control freak, a third begins, haltingly, in the middle of the coffee-table…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Manley, Mike (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Cry Me A River Of Nigh-Irresistable Beams!” Young Heroes In Love #4 (September 1997), p.14, DC Comics Inc.

Poor Junior has found the most insidious of all super-villains: The Existing Boyfriend!  (Teamed up with the Pernicious Ex-Girlfriend, he’s nigh-unbeatable.)  Worse still, Junior reminds Zip-Kid that she just met the greatest superhero of all time, the Man Of Tomorrow, the Metropolis Marvel…  and she lied right in his face.

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Manley, Mike (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Cry Me A River Of Nigh-Irresistable Beams!” Young Heroes In Love #4 (September 1997), p.18, DC Comics Inc.

The shrinking super-hero has a long pedigree in comics, from the Golden Age Doll-Man to Henry Pym and Ray Palmer in the 1960s, and John Belushi notwithstanding, many of those heroes are quite well-respected and even (within reason) powerful.  Indeed, Junior would probably be proud to stand alongside Janet Van Dyne or Ryan Choi in the ranks of size-reducing heroes of history.

That is, if he could actually change size…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Manley, Mike (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Cry Me A River Of Nigh-Irresistable Beams!” Young Heroes In Love #4 (September 1997), p.19, DC Comics Inc.

Off-Ramp asks what happened, and Junior asks if he wants the whole origin story, to which Off-Ramp responds (in a moment that is perfect and wonderful and makes my heart sing with utter joy) “Maybe not the whole thing… Just a few panels worth.”  Heh.  Before he can quit the team out of spite, though, it becomes clear that being a non-powered hero isn’t always a bad thing, as the Young Heroes with powers find their abilities going haywire on them…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Trans-Universal Galacto-Storm!” Young Heroes In Love #5 (October 1997), p.7, DC Comics Inc.

Aside from Monstergirl’s odd denial of her actual powers (more on that later), Thunderhead sudden starts shooting sparks, Frostbite icing over, Off-Ramp disappearing through a warp in space/time, Zip-Kid begins growing out of control…  For a moment, it seems that the time will perish in fire and ice, before they manage to gain control of themselves and Hard Drive identifies the problem as some sort of “interdimensional terrorist attack.”  (That’s code for “Big Crossover Schmageggi”, specifically the lackluster and unnecessary Genesis, which tried to create a shared origin for all the super-powers in the DC Universe.)

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Trans-Universal Galacto-Storm!” Young Heroes In Love #5 (October 1997), p.9, DC Comics Inc.

Hard Drive insists on trying to fight Kalibak (the least interesting of Jack Kirby’s New Gods), but Monstergirl informs him that the crisis is not just messing with extant powers, but catalyzing those that had been lying dormant.  He suddenly panics, rushing off to a hospital facility to check on his brother, leaving so fast that only the Off-Ramp is able to keep up.  Arriving at the room, Hard Drive uses his powers to make certain his catastrophically-powerful little brother stays unconscious, but tips a certain card in his hand to Off-Ramp…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Trans-Universal Galacto-Storm!” Young Heroes In Love #5 (October 1997), p.13, DC Comics Inc.

A short super-scuffle ensues, and Hard Drive gets the upper hand, once again altering Off-Ramp’s memories, using the part of Off-Ramp’s brain that doesn’t want to believe what he has now learned to erase his knowledge of Hard Drive’s telepathy (as he has been doing since the formation of the team.)  Returning home, the duo finds their teammates sitting in the Headquarters, trying to keep their various abilities under control, leaving a furious Hard Drive to stalk out and defeat Kalibak single-handedly.  After defeating the scion of Apokalips, though, their next mission is much more prosaic, taking down some minor thugs menacing the local school district, during which the team has time for discussion…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Cariello, Sergio (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “You’ll Never Walk Alone Into The Furnace Of Unstable Molecules!” Young Heroes In Love #6 (November 1997), p.11, DC Comics Inc.

The mission goes very well, and the heroes quickly bring down “The Rat Pack”, a team of rodent-themed villainous blorks, after which Bonfire drags Thunderhead away and ravishes him.  While the Young Heroes celebrate their big win, and Thunderhead recovers from the surprise jump, “Bonfire” considers her new relationship…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “You’ll Never Walk Alone Into The Furnace Of Unstable Molecules!” Young Heroes In Love #6 (November 1997), p.22, DC Comics Inc.

A string of important victories under their belts (and capes and cowls) the Young Heroes are happy to answer the call of a local senator, whose district is suffering a super-villain outbreak.  Too bad for the Young Heroes, it’s not just some creepy neckbeard alien with a mace, but instead…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Take No Prisoners To The Twilight Of The Gods!” Young Heroes In Love #8 (January 1998), p.12, DC Comics Inc.

…The SCARECROW.  Batman’s 11th most dangerous wackjob nemesis hits the team with his ‘fear gas,’ dropping most of them in their tracks, mentally living and reliving their worst nightmares.  Unfortunately for Professor Crane, Hard Drive’s greatest fear seems to be his teammates suffering, a situation made worse by his sorta-secret telepathic powers…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Take No Prisoners To The Twilight Of The Gods!” Young Heroes In Love #8 (January 1998), p.18, DC Comics Inc.

Though he’s a manipulative big jerk, Hard Drive is also something of a hero, pulling himself up to face his fears head-on, and proving himself to be ready to step up to Batman-level bad guys…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Take No Prisoners To The Twilight Of The Gods!” Young Heroes In Love #8 (January 1998), p.19, DC Comics Inc.

Mopping up the Scarecrow is easier once he’s unconscious, but the Young Heroes remain troubled by how real their nightmares were, and Frostbite and Bonfire finally admit what they’ve both been dancing around saying (though she does have the whole ‘telepathically controlled’ thing on her side.)

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Take No Prisoners To The Twilight Of The Gods!” Young Heroes In Love #8 (January 1998), p.21, DC Comics Inc.

The fire-and-ice duo run off together to consummate their attraction, leaving the rest of their team to clean up and head home.  Still reeling from fear gas flashbacks, the Young Heroes take sometime to bond and talk about the nature of mortality.  This being the DC Universe, they also talk about the wonder of coming back from the dead, specifically the question of ‘Where were you when Superman came back?’

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev/Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Bury My Heart At The Bottle City Of Love!” Young Heroes In Love #9 (February 1998), p.7, DC Comics Inc.

Still seeking a way to decompress, Off-Ramp invites Monstergirl to go with him on a drive, an offer that she fairly leaps at.  Teleporting back and forth across the world, they engage in that most sacred of twenty-something rituals: Driving aimlessly talking about stuff.  Of course, when you’re a teleporter, things get a little bit more complicated, such as when he chooses to give her an excellent aerial view of Mount Rushmore…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev/Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Bury My Heart At The Bottle City Of Love!” Young Heroes In Love #9 (February 1998), p.19, DC Comics Inc.

With more than half the team off gallivanting and/or boinking, a frustrated Hard Drive stalks away, while yet ANOTHER inter-team crush rears it’s head.

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev/Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Bury My Heart At The Bottle City Of Love!” Young Heroes In Love #9 (February 1998), p.21, DC Comics Inc.

Luckily, when you’re a superhero, there’s usually something ready to take your mind of the pain of getting your emotions played with by a maddened psychiatrist, and the Young Heroes are just lucky enough to get the giant kind!

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev/Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Tremble In Fear — For The Beast Hunts You!” Young Heroes In Love #10 (March 1998), p.8, DC Comics Inc.

Also, these menaces tend to have their initials on their belt buckle, because it’s that kind of world.  Also also, the “How giant is giant?’ conversation may be the most entertaining thing I’ve seen all day.  Still, without their temperature twins, are the heroes up to the task of a giant reptilian four-armed blah de blah?

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev/Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Tremble In Fear — For The Beast Hunts You!” Young Heroes In Love #10 (March 1998), p.18, DC Comics Inc.

Bet your trousers, man…  Of course, an ongoing battle with a giant monster is also, apparently, the best time to discuss costume redesigns…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Climb Every Mountain To The Headquarters Without Fear!” Young Heroes In Love #11 (April 1998), p.9, DC Comics Inc.

(Bonfire is a bit touchy, having been yanked away from her new boyfriend in mid-flirt session, by the way…  Sometimes I miss being 19.)  The team quickly discovers that the monster is man-made, by a rotten little genius kid scientist, who wanted to use him to replenish the oxygen lost when deforesting the Amazon rain-forests.  Unfortunately, he also figures out Hard Drive’s endgame…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “OH MY GOD!  HE’S DEAD!” Young Heroes In Love #12 (May 1998), p.7, DC Comics Inc.

The boy is a little bit smug, considering that he figured out Hard Drive’s telepathy by SHOOTING HIM IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD.  (He got better.   Okay, he telekinetically caught it, but still…)  As his mental blocks dissolve, the team confronts their leader, only to have things quickly turn physical…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “OH MY GOD!  HE’S DEAD!” Young Heroes In Love #12 (May 1998), p.13, DC Comics Inc.

The battle is oddly one-sided for six-against-one, and HD holds his own until Off-Ramp gives him a taste of his own psychological warfare…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “OH MY GOD!  HE’S DEAD!” Young Heroes In Love #12 (May 1998), p.18, DC Comics Inc.

For tense moments, it seems that Hard Drive will kill Off-Ramp, one of his most trusted lieutenants, and the Young Hero with whom he has had the longest relationship…

…then, he comes to his senses.

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “OH MY GOD!  HE’S DEAD!” Young Heroes In Love #12 (May 1998), p.19, DC Comics Inc.

With their leader incapacitated, and possibly gone forever, the remaining seven Young Heroes have some decisions to make.  Monstergirl, Junior, Off-Ramp and Bonfire return to the rooftops, because it’s time to make some momentous decisions…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “For Whom The Bell Grumbles!” Young Heroes In Love #13 (June 1998), p.4, DC Comics Inc.

While the leadership types try to shake down whether Hard Drive’s crash (see what I did there?) means the end for the Young Heroes, the unusual duo of Zip-Kid and Thunderhead have to make what are (for them) equally momentous decisions…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “For Whom The Bell Grumbles!” Young Heroes In Love #13 (June 1998), p.8, DC Comics Inc.

“Are you ready to be cape-guy?”  Heh.  Of course, the biggest issue of all is the question of whether Off-Ramp (who is correct in his assessment that he is key to the team’s mobility and success) is going to be sticking around.  Luckily for him, Monstergirl has a little incentive for him to stay…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “For Whom The Bell Grumbles!” Young Heroes In Love #13 (June 1998), p.11, DC Comics Inc.

Of course, Off-Ramp might also have ANOTHER reason to stick around, albeit a more complicated one…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “For Whom The Bell Grumbles!” Young Heroes In Love #13 (June 1998), p.16, DC Comics Inc.

After a particularly difficult interaction with her jerk boyfriend, Zip-Kid returns to headquarters to hang out with the guy she’s crushing on and the guy who’s crushing on her (and, if I had a nickel for every time I was Junior in this situation, I’d have…  Something like $945.35, I think) to discuss whether or not Thunderhead’s new electrical powers are “cool-looking”, which leads to a discussion of whose powers are the coolest…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “For Whom The Bell Grumbles!” Young Heroes In Love #13 (June 1998), p.21, DC Comics Inc.

While Off-Ramp goes walkabout (teleporting throughout the universe, and meeting several other people who share his unusual warping powers), Junior goes on a solo mission, defeating a villain single-handedly, but still not quite sure of how to handle the more difficult and dangerous proposition of talking to girls.

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Revenge Of The Lame-O Plot Device!” Young Heroes In Love #14 (July 1998), p.8, DC Comics Inc.

For her part, Monstergirl goes home to try and get her head together, only to have a very disturbing conversation with her parents about where she came from.  While that sort discussion is always a touchy subject, this one is a little bit more touchy, as it didn’t involve parental hanky-panky, but instead a more complicated matter of eggs falling from space.  “This is my origin, isn’t it?” asks Monstergirl nervously, as her parents confirm her worst  fears…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “We Want Cake!” Young Heroes In Love #15 (August 1998), p.11, DC Comics Inc.

Her parents are unable to locate her “egg”, but the discussion sends her back to the Young Heroes, determined to make a go of things with her new friends.  Upon returning, she finds Bonfire and Frostbite once more engaging in their usual downtime activities (euphemistically known as the ol’ erkey-erkey), with poor Junior stuck in the middle, unsure of what to do, unable to get clear of the flame and frost and such, unaware that his life is about to get a little bit weirder…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Wojtkiewicz, Chuck (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Look Out Evil!  Here Comes Bonfire And Smokey!” Young Heroes In Love #16 (September 1998), p.14, DC Comics Inc.

‘Course, with the Young Heroes, unexpected pairings are par for the course, as Off-Ramp finds upon his return home…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Wojtkiewicz, Chuck (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Look Out Evil!  Here Comes Bonfire And Smokey!”  Young Heroes In Love #16 (September 1998), p.19, DC Comics Inc.

A minor scuffle between the two heroes ensues (broken up by the consummate bouncing skill of Thunderhead), but the more important conflict is in the other room, where Bonfire’s adopted mutt has tranformed into a full-fledged alien hosebeast, and begins telling Monstergirl that she needs to grab her things, ’cause he has come to take her home…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev/Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Squishy They Were, And Golden Eyed!” Young Heroes In Love #17 (October 1998), p.4, DC Comics Inc.

The monster explains that his name is Harharnar, of the Farmniflatch, and that he is her uncle, but before he can explain more, he gets a faceful of Young Heroes awesomeness.  Bonfire takes command, and the team quickly gets the hell out of Dodge, but not before Monstergirl reverts to her manipulative ways.  The team quickly calls her on her duplicity, which raises even more questions…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev/Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Squishy They Were, And Golden Eyed!” Young Heroes In Love #17 (October 1998), p.10, DC Comics Inc.

The battle is quickly rejoined, but Harharnar seems more convinced with measuring Monstergirl’s combat strength and tactics than beating the Heroes, while Off-Ramp teleports away to find help, returning with another of his strange fraternity of space-warpers…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev/Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Squishy They Were, And Golden Eyed!” Young Heroes In Love #17 (October 1998), p.17, DC Comics Inc.

Off-Ramp’s new friend nearly destroys the alien, only for Monstergirl to save him in an act of mercy, leading him to congratulate her on passing her initiation, for assembling such a powerful and loyal group of friends to work as her defense system…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev/Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Squishy They Were, And Golden Eyed!” Young Heroes In Love #17 (October 1998), p.20, DC Comics Inc.

All the remaining heroes return to their headquarters to regroup, finally committed to working together to keep their own patch of home safe from the kind of thing that happens every twenty-five minutes or so in the DCU, while also getting to mack on one another, and possibly talk about who slept with whom and what it was like…

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev/Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Squishy They Were, And Golden Eyed!” Young Heroes In Love #17 (October 1998), p.24, DC Comics Inc.

With Monstergirl and Bonfire agreeing to share the leadership duties, and an invite to the governor’s mansion, things are looking up for the Young Heroes.  But, if you’ve been paying attention, you can be sure that another menace is around the corner, like, saaaay…  Their former looney-tune telepathic teammate having won the governor’s seat using his super-powers?

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[Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev/Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Squishy They Were, And Golden Eyed!” Young Heroes In Love #17 (October 1998), p.25, DC Comics Inc.

Joining Hard Drive’s inaugural ball, the team gets drunk and shares secrets with one another, finally coming clean on all their weird stuff, including Monstergirl copping to impersonating Bonfire and both Thunderhead and Junior having the same reaction to her alien-ness and their previous intimacies thereto:  “Eww.”  Things get more and less complicated all at once, as Zip-Kid and Junior bond, and Off-Ramp finally asks Frostbite the million-dollar question…

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Raspler, Dan (w), Madan, Dev/Jones, Christopher (p), Champagne, Keith (i).] “Squishy They Were, And Golden Eyed!” Young Heroes In Love #17 (October 1998), p.28, DC Comics Inc.

It’s the kind of meaningful moment that seems to happen often in your twenties (and, sadly, much less frequently later), as everyone seems to have a new horizon to explore and a new challenge to conquer.  Though this is the last adventure of the Young Heroes, their legacy did not go entirely unnoticed, and even in the far-flung 853rd century, there are still those who remember their heroism.  Years later, we can but wonder what happened to them:  Did Bonfire ever become the new Lois Lane?  Did Thunderhead ever meet the right girl?  Is Monstergirl still somewhere in the shadows?  Sadly, we may never know, but you have to appreciate their attempt to do something good with the tools at their disposal.  Though the Young Heroes never achieved Hard Drive’s goal of being the next JLA, their tenacity and determination can serve as an example to any who worry about their place in the world, reminding us that everybody has something to contribute, even the guy who’s only four-inches tall…

1HH

**If you’ve enjoyed this Hero History, you might want to ‘Read All About It’ at your Local Major Spoilers! You can just click Hero Histories in the “Columns” section on our main page, and read an ever-increasing number of other guys and gals who are likewise awesome as heck. The adventures of the Young Heroes (In Love) were published by DC Comics, but their current whereabouts (and the possessor of the rights for any potential reprints, he said hopefully) are unknown.

Next up: By The Hoary Hosts Of Hoggoth!

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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5 Comments

  1. Ian
    September 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm — Reply

    The art ruins it for me

    • Lapis
      September 8, 2013 at 10:25 pm — Reply

      Really? Im going to go track this down and reread it purely because I loved the art even when they switched artists. I thought the art was solid throughout. I guess as Matthew would say “your mileage may vary: :)

  2. Dan
    September 3, 2013 at 1:08 am — Reply

    I had the entire series as it came out, I guess you can say I kind of liked the soap opera aspect of the series. I am also one of the few huge Superman nerds who didn’t hate electric superman arc.

  3. Oldcomicfan
    September 3, 2013 at 5:14 am — Reply

    I missed this entire run. In fact, the whole Electric Superman thing drove me away from DC books for several years. There seems to be a disconnect between the art and the story. The art seems kind of Harley-Quinn-ish, without quite straying into the wackiness that was Plastic Man of an earlier decade.

    I’m not surprised this didn’t catch on, though. Since DC already HAD the Teen Titans, why did they need another “young” group? I wasn’t sure what the age of the characters was supposed to be. If they were teens, the artists didn’t know how to draw teens. The characters looked like adult characters with longer hair and unshaven sideburns tacked on. The problem, I think, is that since the main DC heroes appear to be stuck in their perpetual thirties, and the Teen Titans covering the lower end of the spectrum, there isn’t a big enough gap between teens and thirties to warrant a new batch of characters. Also, I didn’t see anything terribly original here – I kept seeing echoes of X-men and JLA and LSH all over the place. The Young Adult angst didn’t do anything for me because the Teen Titans was already full of that. Perhaps this group was intended to knock the X-men off their pedestal, if so, it didn’t get the job done.

    I expected to see this turn into a parody – possibly due to the art – but it didn’t seem to ever get there. The art was more suitable for an “I am Coyote” style of book than a DC mainstream book. This is something I would have expected to come out of First Comics or Pacific – it just doesn’t seem to fit in the DC universe. Not that there’s anything particularly wrong about it, but, and I think this was where it fell short, there wasn’t anything particularly right about it, either.

  4. September 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm — Reply

    This is one of those series that I wish DC would collect into an omnibus or deluxe edition. It was when DC published some off-kilter stuff like this and Major Bummer and Hard Time. Is this even collected at all?

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