Now that DC Comics officially blew our mind with the announcement of the Mature Readers superhero imprint run by Gerard Way, we have got our speculative mind churning about what may be coming. There were a number of signifiers that have come to mind, and there are some clear places that they could be going next as long as the four launch titles do well enough to continue. At the very least we will recklessly start some internet rumors, and hopefully that will force DC to make them come true.
- The Superheroes Brought Back to DC from Vertigo Go Adult
We were not the only ones who were devastated when Hellblazer #300 marked the end of a multi-decade run. The same was equally true when Swamp Thing and Animal Man got ported back to the pages of the DCU, and what we got, though often good, was nowhere near the groundbreaking adult-oriented titles that we grew up with. These were challenging titles that used the superhero form to critique and deconstruct, and what we got later were instead just well realized versions of what DC was broadly doing in their mainstream titles.
But now, five years after the New 52, where did bringing them over bring us? John Constantine never found an audience, Swamp Thing and Animal Man were canceled, and the rest of the Dark corner of the DCU was a pretty big failure. We thought that with the announcement of Doom Patrol we were seeing the return of some of these titles to Vertigo, but instead they may end up coming over to Young Animal. This would keep them in continuity, which gives the universe the depth of characters they need, yet they will no longer try to shoehorn these characters into a mainstream Teen rated book. DC Rebirth seems to be relaunching Hellblazer, again, but hopefully this is actually just coming to Young Animal and they have yet to let us know. If that is not the case, the success of Young Animal could simply lead those titles back there.
2. Young Animals May be the Vessel for More Elseworlds
Elseworlds seems to be dead as a monograph, but the concept remains alive. Some of DC’s most popular books of recent months have been miniseries(Batman: Europa, Superman American Alien, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). In older days, such as the pre-Vertigo days, there was often adult themed versions of mainstream DC characters in non-continuity stories. The Dark Knight Returns, Man-Bat, Arkham Asylum, and others were a sort of “Elseworlds” approach, though they were not often such high concept. There has been no role for this in the last twenty years since Vertigo existed for the adult wing of comics and DC was for the all ages approach, with little to no crossover. Now, we may start to get those Elseworlds type stories back, perhaps seeing things like Batman brought even darker. An example could be Grant Morrisson’s desire to write out of continuity and OGN content, which means he could take his older approach to DC characters over at Young Animal.
Would anyone like to see Grant write a sequel to Arkham Asylum? Young Animal could be the place.
In a lot of ways, it seems like Young Animal could end up being like the Marvel MAX line, which is generally terrible in quality. DC has always done adult themed comics better than Marvel, so we have hopes that they will do this one right.
3. The mainstream DCU is going back to normal. Very normal.
They have tried a lot in DC to compete with the Marvel juggernaut. They made big changes with the New 52, and more changes after Convergence, but none of them made fans happy. The entire theme of Rebirth is going to be going back to classics(Geoff Johns has basically said as much), and so we can expect much more classic takes on our characters. There will still be some of the quirkier and darker characters in the DCU, but we doubt that we are going to get anything that is really off the wall.
That is, at least without Vertigo or Young Animal in the corner. Young Animal seems to be a place where they can take chances, at least when it comes to adult themed content. The quirkier all ages books like Gotham Academy and the new Batgirl have already proved their weight, so its actually the more controversial adult books that may be a problem they do not want to bank. This is also a way of having their cake and eating it too. They can keep it in continuity, but likely they will still be on the edge of the DCU. This means they can do what they want, integrate it into the bigger storylines and crossovers if it works, and ignore it if it doesn’t.
4. Astro City coming back to DC. Somehow.
Astro City has always been a strange choice for Vertigo. It is one of their best sellers, but it forced them to be non-universal about their Mature Readers rating(that and Dead Boy Detectives). They are really the only superhero book on there, and they technically had a connection to the DCU back in through Wildstorm. Perhaps Young Animals may end up taking on Astro City at some point if they establish it as a place for some in continuity, some out of continuity stories. Either way, you may end up seeing some crossover action, though we aren’t sure that Kurt Busiek is really that excited about Batman meeting the Honor Guard.
5. We Have Seen Some of This Before
There is a very heavy hand on these books from Gerard Way, so we can look at books like The Fabulous Lives of Killjoys and Umbrella Academy to see what we can expect from the start. There is also people like Michael Avon Oeming, who has done adult themed superhero books in the past. Books like Victories were actually quite poor, yet they were an attempt to do something like this at Dark Horse. Now, these aren’t great predictions, and this is one place we hope we are wrong, but we actually have some place to look to see the direction this could go.