To make your mark on the future, it helps to take stock of where you’ve been. 2017 promises to be an exciting year for DC and its fans, but before we celebrate the new year, we thought we’d look back on 2016 and consider some of the places we’ve been. DC made some bold choices in the worlds of comics, film and TV, and many of them set our course for the months and years ahead. The past year was full of memorable moments, but some of these moments held real significance. Some of them really mattered. So as we do every year at this time, we thought we’d discuss a few of them. These are DCComics.com’s “Ten Moments that Mattered” for 2016.
It came out of nowhere, but that was kind of the point. Billed as a “pop up imprint,” DC’s Young Animal was first announced last spring in front of an unsuspecting crowd at Emerald City Comicon. Four books focusing on some of the more unusual corners of the DC Universe, all overseen by comic creator and My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, and steered by creators with reputations for thinking well outside the box.
It was impossible not to think of early Vertigo, especially when it was revealed that the imprint’s debut title would be DOOM PATROL, a franchise with a highly acclaimed history at DC’s earlier, equally sophisticated imprint. But it soon became clear that DC’s Young Animal was…well, its own animal, largely due to the strong creative sensibilities of Way and the writers and artists he brought to the line with him.
Who else would take a throwaway fact about a nearly forgotten ’60s-era character—Cave Carson’s cybernetic eye—and use it to relaunch the series with a techno-paranoid, cautionary slant? Would anyone else think to take one of Vertigo’s arguably less accessible concepts—SHADE THE CHANGING MAN—and make it instantly relatable by resetting it as a tale of high school uncertainty and bullying? Other people may have distilled the world of Batman and his motivation as a crimefighter into a simple drive for vengeance, but none have done it with the rawness and undeniable appeal of MOTHER PANIC. And it’s hard to imagine anyone maintaining the signature weirdness and themes of fitting in that have long been a part of Doom Patrol, without sacrificing clarity of story as well as Way has.
Each comic in the now three-month-old Young Animal has garnered critical acclaim and a vocal, passionate base of readers more than willing to put their fandom on display. (Have you seen all of the fan art that’s out there for SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL?) Each of them have demonstrated bold creative choices and highly imaginative storytelling, both in writing and art, and have given readers who prefer the familiarity of a shared universe a corner of that universe that’s not limited by what’s happening in the world of Rebirth. And unsurprisingly, it’s started what may prove to be a new trend.
In October, DC announced a second pop-up imprint, WildStorm, based on the comic line established in the late ’90s by Jim Lee. WildStorm will be curated by Warren Ellis, and will debut with an Ellis-penned book, THE WILD STORM, that will reset the universe and reintroduce many of its most popular characters before eventually expanding into other titles.
Will we see more of these small imprints over the years? Time will tell and the success of the existing imprints will dictate, but for DC readers who appreciate and enjoy some creative diversity within their books, it’s something that’s well worth celebrating.
Be sure to check DCComics.com again tomorrow for another moment that mattered in 2016.