Well, it hasn’t been there for some time, really. We’ve been talking about it in semi-regular columns over the years here at Biff Bam Pop! The DC Comics “sophisticated” and “dark” imprint that gave us mature readings of Sandman, John Constantine: Hellblazer, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Shade the Changing Man, Fables, Lucifer, etc., etc., etc., etc.
There are so many. One of your all-time comic book favourites from any publisher is either on that list or should be.
But Vertigo, due to some neglect, some strategic misdirection, and a lot of parent-company interference, withered on the vine’s edge. Currently, the imprint is trying to reestablish itself with creator-owned properties, in the vein of Image Comics, and publishing critically acclaimed series like Sheriff of Babylon and Astro City among others. But it’s a long way from where it once was, when it released mature takes on DC superhero properties.
Today sees the first release of a new, mature, weird, and decidedly Vertigo-esque take on a DC Comics property…but under the umbrella of a new imprint.
Today sees the release of Doom Patrol #1!
Doom Patrol #1
Written by: Gerard Way
Illustrated by: Nick Darington
Published by: DC Comics/Young Animal
DC Comics, it seems, wants the best of both worlds:
First: Intelligent, sophisticated stories and on-the-edge artwork from both new and lauded talents. Basically what Vertigo Comics once gave them in the late 1980’s through the mid 1990’s.
Secondly (and, it can be argued, more importantly from a business perspective): Publication of their pantheon of comic book characters, no matter how niche or bizarre.
So, instead of going back to Vertigo Comics, the imprint that gave birth to all that, they formed a new imprint and handed it over to show-runner Gerard Way, he of the acclaimed Umbrella Academy and the musical emo, alt-rock act, My Chemical Romance.
Here, then, is DC’s weird, obscure, mature, artsy – but still “our stable of characters” – imprint: Young Animal.
And Doom Patrol, one of the original Vertigo mainstays, once written by industry-bending legend, Grant Morrison, is the imprint’s very first release. It’s so fitting.
Written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Nick Derington, this Doom Patrol is a twenty-first century re-imagining of the excitement that all Vertigo Comics fans once held: left-of-centre, indie-feel, crazy but fun adventure with characters that you love or will learn to love. The story starts with Casey Brinke, a young EMT on the graveyard shift, and her partner Sam Reynolds, in a tale that will see them meander through chaos, consequence, and the God of the Superheroes, bleeding on the floor. All this through characters like Niles Caulder, Negative Man, Crazy Jane, Flex Mentallo and Cliff Steel AKA Robotman. Will Danny the Street make an appearance? Yeah, Doom Patrol is brilliantly peculiar.
One word of advice: Don’t peel off the sticker on the front of the first issue cover. In so many ways, there’s no turning back once you do that. Buy the comic and just turn the page instead.
Make the run to your local comic book shop today, you young animal, you, and pick up Doom Patrol #1. This could be the start of something great for both weird story and comic book business model!