The most exciting news in comics this week is the launch of DC Comics' new imprint, Young Animal. Partly founded by former My Chemical Romance singer and comic book writer Gerard Way, Young Animal is DC's chance to take their strangest characters back to the edge. The goal is to tell more adult stories with the weirder, off-beat characters in the publisher's stable. The result is that we get to see Doom Patrol returning with a new series (see below), and other odd comics hot on its heels. When DC's imprint, Vertigo Comics, first launched in the early '90s, it did a similar thing: it told truly original stories. It's been so long since comic fans have gotten a proper new imprint from a major publisher, and so far Young Animal seems perfectly clued into everything that makes alternative comics amazing: weirdness, risk taking, and damn good art.
Doom Patrol, via DC Comics
The history of this comic is long and winding, but basically: Doom Patrol was originally created as an off-beat superhero story in 1963 and everyone loved it. It was launched and relaunched, and gained true cult classic status when Grant Morrison wrote a truly mind-bending 43 issues of the comic in the late 80s/early 90s. The original story followed misfit heroes attempting to help the world against strange villains, but this new issue is wonderfully weird. A young EMT driver stumbles upon a Robotman and meets a new magical friend as beings from beyond earth attempt to use an old-favorite character to produce a neverending supply of meat. It's hard to tell exactly what's going on in this comic, and that's the joy of it. Absolutely recommended for readers in search of something a bit off and highly experimental.
The Gotham Academy series centers around a prestigious boarding school in Batman's hometown, Gotham City. Though all about the romantic and personal lives of the kids who go to school there, Gotham also folds in classic Batman villains, the caped crusader himself, and great nods to the rich history of the franchise. This "Second Semester" sees the characters coming back to school, and also sees a new student enter and immediately stir up trouble. Highly recommended for teenage readers and lovers of b-sides and deep-cuts.
Elf Cat in Love is a charming indie comic about the adventures of the titular Elf Cat and his friend, a magical, floating, glowing tennis ball. As the two attempt to save princesses and cook hot dogs, friendship blooms into something more. As wild a premise as this is, it perfectly captures the furtive early stages of teenage courtship. There's an innocence on display in creator James Kochalka's illustrations, but it's tempered by a voice that's perfectly plugged in to the cadence of modern chit chat.
The Tower tells the sad story of the Donner Party, a real-life group of pioneers who were heading to California but got stuck in the snow in the late 1840s. With supplies running low and options running out, some of the members of the party turned to cannibalism to survive. This comic, which has a wonderfully hand-drawn feel to it, captures the unsettling early moments of that misadventure. Recommended for horror and history buffs.
What were your favorite comics this week? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @CreatorsProject.