A quick guide to the main players in ‘Deadpool’ creator Rob Liefeld’s self-owned superhero universe, now headed to the big screen.
Rob Liefeld — the man behind characters such as Cable and Deadpool for Marvel Entertainment — has signed a deal with Fundamental Films and Akiva Goldsman to bring his own characters to the big screen. It’s good news for fans of his “Extreme” universe, which has been in existence since 1992’s Youngblood series launched Image Comics, but, for many people, the question on their minds right now might be: “Who are these characters?”
For starters, the universe is called Extreme because that was the name of Liefeld’s comic book studio in the 1990s; he’s published the characters through Image Comics, as well as through his own Maximum Press and Awesome Comics companies.
The central Extreme concept is Youngblood, which is not part of this particular deal (it’s been in development as a movie for some years now, and its rights are held elsewhere). That first title led to the introduction of a number of different titles, characters and concepts, however. Here are some of the primary ones, and those perhaps most likely to appear onscreen as a result of the deal, which includes rights to Bloodstrike, Brigade, Lethal, Re:Gex, Cybrid, Bloodwulf, Battlestone, Kaboom and Nitrogen.
First launched in 1992, the team included its leader, Battlestone, a former member of Youngblood exiled from the group. Along with Coldsnap, Lethal, Seahawk, Thermal, Stasis and Roman, Battlestone and his colorful team battled evil. The concept was reimagined in 2013.
A 16-year-old boy becomes a superhero, thanks to a pair of magical gloves that not only transform him, but also put him on the radar of demons called the Nine. So it’s a good news, bad news situation.
The 1990s comic industry was fond of dramatic titles with “blood” or “death” in the title, making Bloodstrike fit right in. The idea behind the series is a fascinating (if wonderfully ridiculous) one, though: It’s a covert ops squad, working as an assassination team for the authorities, made up entirely of reanimated dead soldiers as part of the euphemistic Project: Born Again. The title was revived briefly in 2012 with a satirical take on the original concept.
Though the following characters are not part of the movie deal, they can give you a taste of what else the Extreme comic book universe has to offer, for those interested in picking up the comics.
A Superman analog, Supreme — who debuted in the third issue of the Youngblood series — has had multiple origins since his debut: His powers came from a government experiment, exposure to alien radiation or even an angel from Christian mythology. His portrayal, too, has gone from being a violent almost-parody of the Man of Steel to a near-perfect re-creation of the 1950s version of DC’s hero. The two constants in his portrayal are his white hair and exploration of the idea of what it means to be more than human.
What started as a Wonder Woman allegory — Gloriana Demeter was the offspring of the leader of the “Amazonians” and a demon — also shifted considerably during her existence. A short-lived revival headlined by Alan Moore saw her given a secret identity (the waitress Gloria West) that would put her more in touch with humanity, but it was 2012’s revamp by writer Joe Keatinge and artist Sophie Campbell that really put the character on the map as far as fandom was concerned, shifting the focus into an epic story that is, despite the mythical, extraterrestrial elements — the Amazonians and demons were retconned into aliens — all about Glory and her demon sister.
Another series where the original high concept (a homeless man in WWII volunteers for experiments to be turned into a super soldier, unaware that the scientist responsible is a time traveler and that he’ll be placed in stasis soon after his treatment, only to be released in the modern day) was replaced as part of a critically acclaimed recent revamp, the contemporary Prophet actually isn’t contemporary at all — he’s a man from today who exists 10,000 years in the future and has multiple clones with altered DNA existing across the universe as part of a weird and wonderful sci-fi take on the fantasy genre.
Essentially a riff on Marvel’s X-Men, the New Men are a group of individuals who have the “Nu Gene” — a result of alien tampering with human DNA that means that those with the gene have superhuman powers. In a nice twist, this gene also was the basis for mythical beasts such as vampires and werewolves; they’d simply been regular people with the Nu Gene all along. Everything went well until the aliens responsible for the genetic tampering (the Keep) returned to see how their efforts had fared…