Young Animal is returning in a big way at the end of January. Prior to the relaunch of Mother Panic, Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye, and Shade, The Changing Girl, the line will be part of a month-long crossover with the DC Universe called “Milk Wars.” The crossover is composed of five double-length one-shots, each of which will pair a character from Young Animal with a DC counterpart. The Doom Patrol will meet the JLA, Cave Carson will meet Swamp Thing, and so on.
These five issues will tell the story of how both sets of characters must team up in order to defeat RetCo, a mysterious group that has been alluded to in the pages of Doom Patrol. It’s an event unlike anything DC Comics has done recently, packed with characters and completed by the end of February. There’s a lot to be excited for in “Milk Wars.” If you aren’t already feeling the hype, here are the top seven reasons we’re ready to pick up the event starting this Wednesday.
RetCo isn’t an ordinary villainous cabal. They exist to steal and repackage stories -- offering a metatextual twist reminiscent of early Vertigo comics featuring DC superheroes. RetCo traverses dimensions opening doors to potentially infinite genres and alternate earths. Their muscle is reflected in a twisted form of the Justice League. The DC Comics trinity of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman have been reshaped into Milkman Man, Wonder Wife, and Father Bruce, respectively. They are all twisted versions of the originals. Father Bruce, for example, runs an orphanage used to train an entire generation of Robins. Given Gerard Way’s past work in comics, it’s not difficult to see how this premise will comment on superheroes and the serialized stories of comics. We can’t wait to see what he has to say.
One of the definitive characteristics of the Young Animal line is the quality and consistency of its creators. Announcements of the initial series all revealed some of the best writers and artists working in superhero comics today, and they have not utilized fill-in artists to speed up production. “Milk Wars” offers an opportunity to mix things up though within the format of each one-shot. There are a variety of new writers and artists taking their first shot at Young Animal, including Steve Orlando, ACO, and Dale Eaglesham. These creators and others bring both a new perspective and more experience with the JLA half of the team up. New voices, talents, and perspectives ought to make each one-shot feel like much more than an extension of the Young Animal series. And, if we’re lucky, some of these creators will return for future Young Animal comics.
Each one-shot matches a Young Animal character with a mainstream figure within the DC universe. The Doom Patrol and JLA are paired as the leading teams of their respective lines. Mother Panic and Batman are the angry avengers with a dark past (who also both happen to inhabit Gotham City). Shade, the Changing Girl and Wonder Woman are outsiders to modern society who attempt to bring enlightenment and understanding. Cave Carson and Swamp Thing are the horror-fueled heroes with the most mind-bending weirdness of any solo acts in their respective lines. The hook with each of these team ups is obvious and exciting. While Superman and a few others have briefly appeared in Young Animal comics before, this will be the first time the line is able to provide a comprehensive take on mainstream DC characters. It’s clear they’re all exactly where they need to be.
The first three covers of “Milk Wars” have been revealed, and they are all from comics superstar Frank Quitely. While his methodical linework and busy schedule means Quitely won’t be contributing any interior artwork, his designs for the villainous trio will still populate every installment of the event. Quitely is well-known for his ability to infuse the iconic within the mundane, and these new designs show that off. There is an ordinary base to Wonder Wife, Milkman Man, and Father Bruce, but small tweaks to their outfits combined with stature and pose make them obvious allegories to other superheroes. We’re glad to both have Quitely contributing to DC Comics again and to see what other artists do with these designs.
In addition to “Milk Wars”, all first four issues of the event will also contain a back-up story introducing the new Young Animal character Eternity Girl. Following “Milk Wars” Magdalene Visaggio and Sonny Liew will be launching their story of a woman who cannot die and now seeks to end the universe along with her boredom. It’s a perfect premise for the Young Animal line and comes from two Eisner recognized talents. Liew’s work on The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye has shown him to be a preeminent experimenter in the comics medium. These four early looks at the Eternity Girl series are icing on the “Milk Wars” cake.
It has been emphasized that this crossover is a Young Animal endeavor, essentially meaning that the DC superheroes are the guest stars in a world much stranger than their own. We won’t just be seeing Batman interact with Mother Panic, but Jody Houser’s take on Batman within the world of Mother Panic. It’s a key distinction and one that may lead to some interesting surprises. While the heroes will all be recognizable, readers won’t be seeing the same characters they receive in bi-weekly installments from the Rebirth line. We are bound to see these heroes go to much weirder places than normal within Young Animal, and that’s a good thing.
The final solicit for “Milk Wars” promises to establish a new status quo for all of the Young Animal titles. It will be the jumping off point for relaunches of Mother Panic, Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye, and Shade, The Changing Girl, as well as the start of Eternity Girl. After months without much Young Animal, “Milk Wars” is delivering a very promising phase two. For the past couple of years Gerard Way and his collaborators have consistently delivered some of the most engaging and inventive superhero comics around. “Milk Wars” won’t just deliver a great crossover, but the return of DC Comics’ best line of stories.