If you’ve somehow been heavily sleeping on the latest news surrounding Young Animal, you still have over two months to catch up before its official launch. The new DC Imprint is being headed by former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, who returns to his comic book roots with new stories that spawn directly from the DC comic universe -- with a punk rock artsy twist. Color explodes off of the preview pages, and characters are revived in brand new takes that flip the switch on who, or what, can lead an intriguing comic series. Backing the wild machine is an array of talent that blends the young blood with the wisdom of seasoned pens, as well as a strong team of women that create and back various aspects of the vertical.
While Cecil Castelucci breathes new life into a classic character with Shade, the Changing Girl, Jody Houser’s Mother Panic is an all-new vigilante who mingles among Gotham City’s upper class in order to uncover their deadliest secrets. I sat down with Castelucci and Houser to talk about what makes their stories -- and those of Young Animal’s -- so unique within the sea of stories that make up DC Comics.
6. Gotham’s most dangerous debutante has a very human problem: Her mother
Perhaps the absolute best reason to check out the unpredictable universe of Young Animal is the latest story out from Faith scribe Jody Houser, titled Mother Panic. The story centers on a celebrity heiress named Violet Paige, who graces the halls of Gotham’s most high-end parties while maintaining a secret identity as a violent vigilante who takes on the seedy underbelly of Gotham’s high society. What makes it interesting, though, is the hard-yet-heartwarming dynamic between Violet and her mother, which Houser elaborated on at Comic-Con. “When you’re in a position where a daughter has to take care of her mother to an extent, there’s that sort of that reversal of positions,” she said. “On top of being a vigilante and beating up people and getting revenge, having to take care of a parent who isn’t well … that sort of a whole layer of stress on top that I think is very grounded in the real world. That’s a relationship we haven’t really seen too much in mainstream superhero comics.”
5. Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye is a really cool book title
Way will co-write a new-age revival of a classic hero alongside Jon Rivera and Michael Avon Oeming. While the title is a bit self-explanatory, little else is known about the return of the relatively obscure character, outside of the fact that he now has a cybernetic eye. “I’m really excited to read Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye,” Houser admitted, “That’s the best title I’ve ever heard. I’m mad I’m not writing a book called Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye. I don’t even know what the book will be about, I just want that title, you know?”
4. Mother Panic is empathetic, but totally violent
Who says girls can’t enjoy watching a good bludgeoning? “I call it sort of the opposite of Faith,” admitted Houser. “I think people who are looking for a darker real-world take on a character who is dealing with past trauma and just story of trying to confront that during their adulthood.” That dark past leads to some pretty bloody and morally-grey heroics at the hands of Violet Paige, who takes quite a bit of joy out of beating up Gotham’s nose-in-the-air elite. Where Houser’s Faith character is benevolent and does her best to remedy situations, Mother Panic is much less forgiving.
5. Gerard Way makes for one heck of a curator
Along with his co-writing credits on several of Young Animal’s new titles, Way’s distinct spin on visualization has helped him bring together a team of creatives with extremely diverse styles. “I call him our Captain,” joked Castelluci. “I think he’s put together a really swell team of people who are doing really interesting things, and rebooting so many amazing characters.” Nearly every story is a retelling or continuation of characters that Way and DC took a special interest in reviving, and that’s what makes the whole endeavor stand out above the rest: these obscure characters aren’t so much being rebooted, their stories are simply being retold through the sharply-focused lens of Way’s creative mind. “It’s been really fun working with him and this team,” Castelucci said.
2. Shade, the Changing Girl is a perfectly trippy revival
Inspired by Steve Ditko’s Shade, the Changing Man, this new story sends the insane otherworldly being into the body of a popular teenage bully. Castelucci’s compelling story about an out-of-body experience from within someone else’s body is told through artwork by Marley Zarcone (with Kelly Fitzpatrick on colors) that takes the form of vivid shapes and scenes, then twists them with a brand of madness that suits this strange new take on the character. “Every page that she sends in, I swoon, and I have to get the -- bring me the smelling salts! -- because it’s all so gorgeous … you really have to push yourself beyond the page because there’s ‘form’ and ‘no form’. Madness has no set form.”
1. There will be crossovers
Young Animal’s stories take place "within" the DC Universe, though some are in more familiar locations than others. With Mother Panic set in Gotham -- and her already-strong visual ties to the Batfamily -- it’s only a matter of time before a familiar face pops up. Jody Houser took that hint a step further and confirmed that Batwoman will be coming to the series in the future. “For anyone who loves any of the Batbooks, I think we’ll be seeing a certain red-headed Batwoman in Mother Panic … and then maybe we’ll see what other Gotham characters come out to play.”
The world of Young Animal kicks off this September with the release of Doom Patrol.