“Youth” Issue 4 – Review: Interesting Teen Superhero Story but With Tropey Queer Representation

Youth Issue 4 review
Youth Issue 4 (Image: ComiXology)

Youth Issue 4 released this week and well, this 4-part queer-led mini-story about teens with superpowers is indeed something. I think fans will appreciate it more when all four issues are read back-to-back instead of waiting for them to be released weekly.

In my review of Youth Issue 3, I talked about the messy queer relationship between Franklin and River. I mentioned how the narrative was following a problematic bisexual trope and how it felt weird that being a queer-led comic, we were yet to see two male characters being intimate with each other.

Youth Issue 3 tweet

Youth Issue 4 did deliver in the M/M intimacy department. We got to see how Franklin and River met each other. Also, River’s named after the actor River Phoenix. Considering how the actor died at a very young age, I kind of felt something was going to happen to River in this issue, and it sure did.

Now, due to Youth being a superhero story, there’s a chance that River is still alive and being held by a secret government agency or something. This comic book series has been renewed for a second season, so anything is possible.

However, if you look at the current 4 issues, River’s journey (as a gay character) has involved feeling bad about killing a number of people, having his bisexual romantic male interest cheat on him, and then (possibly) dying… which, yeah… no.

As I have already mentioned, the queer representation has been very messy in Youth. And not the fun kind of messy.

Coming to the rest of the plot, seeing how the government agent (who’s after the teens) survived was well done, in my opinion. There’s more to him than meets the eye. Now, the ending might not be for everyone, especially for readers who were expecting Youth to deliver something different compared to your usual superhero fare.

But having said that, you can tell there’s definitely a plan behind Youth. That’s why I’m looking forward to reading what the young creative team of Curt Pires and Alex Diotto (they are more or less near my age) will offer in the sequel, even though I could have done without the tropey queer representation.

Youth is being developed for a live-action adaptation by Amazon Studios. When was the last time you got to see a live-action show with queer superpowered teens being produced by a big studio? So, even if the premise of Youth isn’t something you’re a fan of, in the long run, such content is important to be showcased in media.

Now, don’t get me wrong, though. The problematic queer representation definitely isn’t important (media has more than enough of that already), the need for our TV screens to show a live-action series with queer superpowered teens (and PoC characters) is what I’m talking about.

If you have been looking for a queer-centric comic book to read for Pride Month, you should consider picking up Youth.

It’s free for members of Amazon Prime, Kindle Unlimited, and comiXology Unlimited. You can also buy each issue for a couple of dollars. Go support queer content!

And if you have read Youth already, let me know what you thought.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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