This summer, DC comics unveiled a new imprint titled “Young Animal,” headed by former My Chemical Romance singer and writer of “The Umbrella Academy,” Gerard Way. The imprint kicked off Sept. 14 with the launch of “Doom Patrol,” written by Way and penciled by Nick Derington.
DC’s “Young Animal” is important partly because of its aspiration to be like the original Vertigo line of comics that launched in 1993. These comics follow the success of DC’s “mature readers” titles such as “Saga of the Swamp Thing” by Alan Moore, “Sandman” by Neil Gaiman and “Animal Man” by Grant Morrison.
Vertigo launched with the intention of focusing on mature themes and more sophisticated storytelling than what was currently in American comics.
“Vertigo” was a runaway success for the company, but since the 2000's, “Vertigo” started publishing more and more creator-owned work rather than mature takes on old DC characters.
“Young Animal” will make an attempt to harken back to the golden age of “Vertigo” by using obscure DC characters to tell mature stories that don’t have to reform to any sort of rating standard.
“Young Animal” launches with four monthly titles: “Doom Patrol,” “Shade the Changing Girl,” “Mother Panic” and “Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye.”
The inclusion of “Doom Patrol” and its focus as the flagship title is another way of calling back to the original Vertigo. Grant Morrison’s and Rachel Pollack’s respective runs on “Doom Patrol” helped start Vertigo in the '90s, and the team continued to be a fan favorite even as it went back to the DC Universe proper.
“Shade the Changing Girl” is a play on Peter Milligan’s Vertigo comic “Shade the Changing Man,” which was initially based on Steve Ditko’s original 1977 creation. The inspiration for “Cave Carson” came around when Way was reading through a DC Comics encyclopedia and found a small entry on the character that curiously noted that he had a “cybernetic eye.”
As for "Mother Panic," Way says, “Mother Panic was a character that I was working on, probably for creator-owned, and once I realized I could put this awesome character in Gotham, I was like, that’d be cool, because then the character outlives you.”
“Young Animal” markets itself as “Comics for Dangerous Humans.”
In Way’s introduction, he describes the tagline saying, “Obviously not the kind of humans that would actually be physically dangerous, but humans that think dangerous. We wanted to create a new type of comic for readers going through transformations of their own. Young Animal is about the art of making comics, the art of transformation, self-discovery, self-actualization — these are the themes you will find in the pages of DC’s Young Animal comics.”
If you want to be a “dangerous human,” consider picking up one of the “Young Animal” publications in the coming months. Even if you have never read a comic before, there is bound to be something that will pique your interest.