DC Daily Planet: Young Animal! Challenges! ECCC!

And we’re back after an accidental week off thanks to some planning miscalculations on my part. This past weekend was Emerald City Comic Con and while the DC news outpouring was pretty light compared to Wondercon, there’s still a pretty decent list of things to be covered. Let’s jump right in.

Young Animal, a new imprint falling (vaguely, sorta kinda) under the Vertigo line and spearheaded by former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way was announced as well as the titles and creative teams for it’s four core titles.

Way describes the imprint as “comics for dangerous humans,” whatever that means, and is looking to stir up some ’80s and ’90s super heroic weirdness by “following the spirit of those books from the past but bringing them somewhere else”.

The titles set to make their debut are Doom Patrol, written by Way with art by Nick Derington, Shade, The Changing Girl, written by Cecil Castellucci with art by Marley Zarcone, Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye, written by Way and Jon Rivera with art by Michael Avon Oeming, and Mother Panic, written by Way and Jody Houser with art by Tommy Lee Edwards.

It’s a weird line up, to be sure, and clearly a patchwork of new and old. Way’s Doom Patrol is supposed to be “following the spirit” of Grant Morrison’s run on the team, and Cave Carson is an all but forgotten relic of the silver age, but Shade and Mother Panic are, apparently, completely unique.

This isn’t an inherent problem, to be sure, but the fact that no one seems to really be able to articulate where the Young Animal books will sit in the continuity spectrum beside the rest of the DCU is concerning. Especially with Rebirth looming so closely on the horizon.

When asked about Young Animal’s position in the DC zeitgeist by CBR, Way responded:

I like continuity, but they’re doing this big thing with “Rebirth.” I’m not really in the loop; they have plans for that. Young Animal’s in its own pocket, really. I’m going to always request to be able to say, “Can I use Superman for a page?”

This lack of communication, the idea of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing, is pretty endemic of…well, just about all of my major concerns and grievances with DC since the 2011 reboot, and one of my biggest stressors about Rebirth at large.

On the tin, Rebirth is being branded as an attempt to retrieve and reconstitute major parts of the preboot DCU that got “thrown out with the bathwater” according to Didio, but just about every quote and soundbyte from the creators themselves are telling a completely different story.

Retrieving and reconstituting historical bits and bats is a pretty tricky feat if no one is talking to one another and therefor, never on the same page.

That’s not to be too alarmist, however. I’m well aware that my anxiety about both Rebirth and Young Animal is basically a protracted attempt to read the tea leaves of completely unassociated interviews and press releases. My interpretations and projections could be completely wrong — and honestly, I hope that they are.

Young Animal has the potential to be a powerful tool for reaching new audiences and niches of fans who may have felt shoved aside by the New 52 or who may have left comics after finishing books like Sandman. And I really hope that it is, I genuinely do. But in order to really be the tool that it has the potential to be, it needs to sit down and decide what it is, where it stands, and how it relates to the rest of the world.

The other major announcement from ECCC was the reintroduction of the 1980s writing experiment the DC Challenge.

For those not up on their completely obscure DC history, the DC Challenge was a round robin storytelling experiment involving twelve randomly assigned teams of artists and writers coming together to each tell one issue’s worth of story about an interconnected narrative.

The books were spurred on by liberal use of cliffhangers and writers were not permitted to consult with one another prior to their issues to really up the stakes of the round robin style.

This new DC Challenge has an all-star team 13-pronged team line up of Dan Abnett and Dale Eaglesham, Peter J. Tomasi and Neal Adams, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, James Tynion IV and Carlos D’Anda, Bill Willingham and Ivan Reis, Steve Orlando and Philip Tan, Marguerite Bennett and Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen and Steve Rude, Tom King and Kevin Eastman, Greg Pak and Joe Prado, Rob Williams and Walter Simonson, Gail Simone and Ryan Sook, and Len Wein and José Luis García-López

The narrative this time around will focus on ’70s Jack Kirby creation Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth. It’s an interesting move on DC’s part to revive the challenge as it’s specifically an exercise in communication and shared narrative space — the exact thing that feels like it’s so earnestly missing from the editorial efforts of things like the New 52, Rebirth, and now Young Animal. So, despite having literally no nostalgia for the idea of the Challenge (I wasn’t even alive for it, let alone reading comics), and absolutely zero contact recognition with Kamandi as a character, I’m pretty excited. I hope it goes well, and I hope it serves to inspire more collaborative efforts between creator teams in the future.

In some non-ECCC related news, the new DC Previews catalogue became available at retailers this week with some new solicits and fun articles about the state of a handful of Rebirth books.

Unfortunately, not a lot of new information could really be gleaned from any of the solicits, at least nothing that I hadn’t already talked about post-Wondercon.

Just about the only interesting and new rumbling regarding Rebirth books right now is the potential for some “new art” and potential changes being commissioned for Titans issue #1. Who knows what that’s supposed to mean, or if there’s any point in lending credence to that level of rumor.

And finally, ICYMI, and I doubt you have: Ben Affleck was confirmed to be not only staring in, but directing the upcoming solo Batman film in the DCEU. This news would be great, except that it’s not. Batman vs. Superman tainted my ability to enjoy any movie set in the current DC movieverse so thoroughly that I’m not even sure I’ll be able to muster up the drive to see this movie, let alone be excited by the prospect of it.


Mason Downey

Mason Downey

Mason is a midwestern transplant to Los Angeles but he feels most at home in Gotham City. He loves Robins (of the sidekick variety), robots (of the "in disguise" variety), and spending too much money on his pull list every week.

One thought on “DC Daily Planet: Young Animal! Challenges! ECCC!

  1. Shade the Changing Girl isn’t completely unique, though… Remember Shade the Changing Man? I’m excited about Young Animal anyway, more so than for Rebirth as a whole.

    I share your concerns about enjoying any offerings from the current movieverse. I’d like to hope that WB will find a way to course correct, but BvS (and even MoS) have shit in the pot for me… dunno how much I want to eat anything from that pot, no matter how good it looks. There’s got to be some sort of soft reboot, though an announcement that Snyder has left to work on other, unrelated projects might be a good start.

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