Wondercon: The Latest from the DC Young Animals Panel

by Joseph Marcas
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WonderCon 2017 had a great weekend in Anaheim California and we were on the scene to bring you the latest news from the convention. First up to bat (no pun intended) is the DC’s Young Animal panel. The panel included Young Animal editor Jamie Rich, Doom Patrol writer Gerard Way, Mother Panic writer Jody Houser, Shade The Changing Girl writer Cecil Castellucci, and Cave Carson writer Jon Rivera. The panel went down the line of the four major Young Animal line of comics to discuss the current state of the titles as well as providing a sneak peek at what will come next.

Doom Patrol

The first thing that Rich and Way wanted to address was the consistency (or lack thereof) of the shipping of the books. Both Rich and Way stated that sometimes books are delayed as a result of wanting to have the same team consistently work on a book for a particular story arc rather than having “guest artists.” In order to avoid delays, other DC books will sometimes bring in a different artist in order to meet a deadline but Way and Rich say that they want to avoid that. Way not only works on writing but also works on the imprint of the books which sometimes hampers his work.

With that in mind, issue #7 of Doom Patrol will be delayed for a few weeks but will return with all new art drawn by Mike Allred. As for future story arcs. Way stated that one of the new characters, Casey, will continue to provide an entry point for new fans of Doom Patrol and will look at that world through her eyes. On the advice of Grant Morrison, Way also alluded to the fact that Doom Patrol will have shorter story arcs with some of them being only two to three issues long.

Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye

The big story for this book revolves around how the Man of Steel himself will be working with Carson in an upcoming story arc. Writer Jon Rivera describes the idea of working with Superman as very exciting. To paraphrase, Rivera said that he never even dreamed of using Superman in his book but when the opportunity came up, he jumped at the chance. Rivera used the movie Superman 2, along with Superman titles from the 80’s, as inspiration for his take on Superman and even gave homage to Margot Kidder’s rendition of Lois Lane and laments how he wishes he could’ve used her character in the book.

One note on the book and others in the Young Animals line is the stand alone short stories included in the back of the books. For example, The Wonderful World of Rocks by Mark Barto is story about geology that is taught by one of Carson’s former professors. Rich and Way stated during the panel that they are like using these stories as a way to flesh out the worlds in the Young Animals books.

Mother Panic

Jody Houser’s book continues and wraps up its current story arc that involves both Shawn Crystal and Tommy Lee Edwards. Houser stated during the panel that she loves being able to work in Gotham City and add to that mythology. Houser stated that she is a huge fan of Batman but really enjoys the fact that Violet, the main character in Mother Panic, is not a huge fan of the Dark Knight and is quick to point out the very bad things that Batman does for example (and I paraphrase here): Batman beats up mentally disabled people.

Issue #7 of Mother Panic will feature a new noirish black and white aesthetic that will be drawn by John Paul Leon as well as a more featured appearance of 90’s character Gunhawk who arrives as a DJ on Gotham Radio who also hates Batman and will use his platform to make that known to the rest of the city.

Shade: The Changing Girl

Fan favorite book Shade: the Changing Girl will feature more issues dedicated to developing the character of Loma, the alien that is inhabiting the body of the young girl Megan. Writer Cecil Castellucci states that she really likes the character and wants to use Loma as a way to navigate the space the story is taking on the fringes of the DC Universe. Castellucci is quick to point out that Megan, who the writer admits is kind of a terrible person, will also continue to take a prominent role in the book.

Similar to The Wonderful World of Rocks, Shade also includes the story called Life with Honey. Castellucci uses this story as a way to try to flesh out Loma’s characters since the alien loves the TV show so much after discovering the signal travelling through space. Castellucci admits that I Love Lucy and its transmission well into the recesses of space, served as inspiration since Loma discovered the show very similarly to the way that aliens may discover I Love Lucy someday.

As for the future, it appears as though Shade may be coming to Gotham which opens up a lot of possibilities for storytelling. Castellucci admitted that Loma will find Gotham very interesting since there are so many weird people in Gotham that wear cowls.

Bug! The Adventure of Forager

Gerard Way announced that the Jack Kirby inspired character of Forager will be the subject of the next book to come out in the Young Animals series. The book will feature the stellar team of Lee Allred and Michael Allred. Way noted that the passion exuded by the creative team of this book, as well as their reverence of Jack Kirby.

On a final note, Gerard Way was asked by an attendee about Young Animals books and where they fit in the larger DC Universe. Way answered by saying that he enjoyed how the books operate on the “fringe” of the DC Universe but didn’t rule out inclusion at a later date. He noted how the DCU is currently going through major plot points with the Rebirth lines so it might be too soon to have these characters in that world.

Trades for the first four inaugural titles will also be available this summer.

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