We're knee-deep into DC's Young Animal imprint. Most of the titles are at least two issues in, and we're learning more and more about these comics for dangerous humans with every release. In this case, dangerous means offbeat and not like everyone else. These aren't stories about everyday folks. One of the best parts about the Young Animal line is how it puts bright lights on more eccentric characters who haven't had the chance to shine in the pages of DC Comics in a while or maybe ever. Their tales are for dangerous humans because being outside the norm and moving to your own beat can sometimes be dangerous... which brings its own conflict.
Many of us struggle with fitting in. To be part of the crowd, to not stick out in any way is to have an easier life, a safer life. Is it as exciting? Not usually. But excitement isn't for everyone (and that's okay, I'm not bashing anyone who prefers a less turbulent path). As unconventional as the characters in DC's Young Animal are, they have to wrestle with the idea of "normalcy" and blending in, too. It's a recurring theme throughout DOOM PATROL, SHADE, THE CHANGING GIRL, and CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE. The stars of those series have powers and enhancements and/or aren't even human, and they're not necessarily thrilled about their differences or what they mean.
Let's look at Loma, a.k.a. Megan, a.k.a. Shade. The second issue of the comic written by Cecil Castellucci with art from Marley Zarcone explores Shade's life as Megan at Amelia Bloomer High. Megan's returned after being in a long coma, and her arrival doesn't go smoothly. Nor should it. The madness vest is causing issues, and as we learned, the vest causes the wearer's body to begin to die. Shade isn't even aware of that knowledge yet, she's only trying to be a regular ol' high school attendee. Unfortunately, the home she's picked belongs to a girl who was cruel and not genuinely popular.
Shade went through the day bewildered by the rudimentary math being taught, the idea of taking a break for lunch, and generally everything that came her way. She struggled. She started to realize maybe the escape to Earth wasn't the grand idea she thought it might be. Shade found solace in a new kid, someone who didn't have any history with Megan and therefore had no expectations of Shade. She decides she wants to study and "really live this life," as she puts it. Fitting in for Shade means fitting into the space Megan left.
Over in DOOM PATROL #3 from writer Gerard Way and artist Nick Derington, Casey Brinke received a dose of unreality in Dannyland. She found her origin story as a part of Danny Comics; she began as fiction in the pages of those comics. She went over well with readers, so Danny brought Casey to life. Like, for real. Yeah, it's the sort of revelation that would make anyone's head spin in denial—which was Casey's reaction.
Casey wanted no part of what Danny was selling. She didn't have any desire to learn more about the Doom Patrol or to be part of their ranks. She wanted to walk out and return to a life where she could be an ace ambulance driver with a cat named Lotion. And I don't blame her. To accept the bizarre is to also accept you're a little bizarre. Not all of us are ready to make the leap.
Think about it. How would you react when confronted with the improbable? Actually, not just the improbable but downright out-of-this-world craziness? On paper, I'd be ready to jump in headfirst and learn more. Reality might not line up. Change is scary. Different is scary. To be unlike others is dangerous. I understand the longing to fit in.
New issues of DC's Young Animal imprint are falling onto shelves regularly, so I'll be back soon to discuss the latest developments. While we're waiting, I'd like to hear your thoughts. Drop by the comments to share your opinions on how our offbeat characters are trying to fit in and let me know which title you're enjoying the most.
SHADE, THE CHANGING GIRL #2 and DOOM PATROL #3 are both available in print and as a digital download.