DC Comic’s Young Animal imprint is one of the best things happening in comics at the moment, a firecracker that’s been tossed into fandom’s collective lap, waking us up to remind us just how great the medium can be.
Curated by rockstar-cum-comicbook writer Gerard Way, Young Animal is what happens when a major publisher allows creators with unique visions t tell the stories they want, unabated by the baggage that typically comes with writing a superhero comic for the Big Two. That’s not to say something like the recent Wonder Woman run isn’t the execution of Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott’s vision, of course. The difference is that a series like Wonder Woman feels distinctly like a DC comic, while a book like Gerard Way and Nick Derington’s Doom Patrol feels more rooted in the vein of a ’90s Vertigo series, or even something you’d see at Image. They’re different from your average DC comic — they’re experimental, and willing to take more risks.
It’s been around for less than a year, and the imprint has already garnered critical praise from a multitude of publications, with Doom Patrol and Shade, The Changing Girl in particular popping up on various “Best of 2016” and “Best of 2017 (So Far)” lists.
More often than not, sharing the space on these lists are two Marvel series: The Vision by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, and Moon Knight by Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood, Francesco Francavilla and James Stokoe. It’s no coincidence that both of these titles encompass the same aforementioned uniqueness of the Young Animal series. They’re strange. They’re fresh.
The Vision is a meditation on artificial intelligence and what it means to be human, while Moon Knight explores mental illness and the subjectivity of reality. They don’t feel like any other Marvel comic currently on the stands. So if Marvel is willing to take a chance on these kinds of stories, why not expand it to a full imprint, using the Young Animal as a model as a jumping off point?
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