DC Comics launched their Young Animal imprint in 2016. Designed to give mature readers a new twist on some classic DC characters, Young Animal has revamped the Doom Patrol, Cave Carson, and Bug, given us a new version of Shade (switching from the Changing Man to the Changing Girl) and introduced the new character Mother Panic.
There is a heaping helping of weird in every Young Animal title. They are still officially part of the main DC universe, just WAY out on the fringe. These characters have pretty much kept to themselves and had only a few interactions with more conventional heroes.
Until the Milk Wars started.
In a series of five crossover specials that began in February, the bizarre nature of the Young Animal books is seeping into DC’s mainstream thanks to the reality-shifting corporation RetCo, a main foil of the new Doom Patrol. What they do is take different parts of the multiverse and combine them together (kind of like how comic book creators change things to add retroactive continuity into their books) and sell these newly created universes to the highest bidder.
I DID mention this crossover is weird, right?
This series begins when the villain Manga Khan, who is an old Justice League rogue who first appeared in Justice League International #14 (June 1988) during the League’s “BWAH-HA- HA” days. He wants a nice, halcyon earth to play with, one without all the angst.
RetCo fulfills his request by reinventing Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League of America as squeaky-clean, 1950s versions of themselves. Just how do they get everyone to buy into this? With wholesome, homogenized milk of course!
Superman has become Milkman Man (that is not a typo), who crash landed on earth and was raised by a nefarious dairy farmer. He takes bottles of radioactive milk from psychic cows and delivers them every day for the people in his utopian town to enjoy (and of course keep them on track with the new program).
Batman is now Father Bruce, the kindly local priest who helps the downtrodden and orphans of Gotham become their best selves through the transformative power of milk. Why he still wears his cowl and cape over his priestly garb is beyond me.
Wonder Woman now spends all her time getting herself and her house ready for her husband Steve Trevor’s return at the end of the day. She even takes milk baths. Such is the life of Wonder Wife. Even the members of the JLA get in on the action as the Community League of Rhode Island. Straight Pleasantville all the way.
If seeing The Atom, Black Canary, The Ray, Vixen, and Killer Frost looking like a page out of a Norman Rockwell painting isn’t enough to shock you, it really hits home when you get a load of Lobo as the head of the neighborhood watch. Excuse me, “Glen” Lobo, complete with well-coiffed hair, a cardigan, and smoking a pipe. Certainly not the Main Man we are used to.
Milk Wars is a truly bizarre story that also includes Swamp Thing (because if anything weird is going on in the DC universe, Swamp Thing is required to be there) that DC is hoping will help mainstream fans discover the Young Animal way of doing things. After this crossover, they are even re-launching some of their books with new #1 issues in hope of attracting more readers.
It is what Young Animal is calling the “next level of evolution” for these characters. Be on the lookout in March as Shade the Changing Girl begins her new life as Shade, the Changing Woman; Cave Carson takes his cybernetic eye into outer space in Cave Carson Has an Interstellar Eye; Mother Panic jumps forward ten years to show us a Gotham without Batman in Mother Panic: Gotham A.D.; and a new series born out of this crossover begins with Eternity Girl.
In the meantime, pick up the five Milk Wars special and get your weird on. Milkman Man says it will make you feel comfy inside like a glass of warm milk before bedtime!
Milk Wars reading order:
JLA/Doom Patrol #1 (January 2018)
Written by Steve Orlando and Gerard Way. Art by ACO.
Mother Panic/Batman #1 (February 2018)
Written by Jody Houser. Art by Ty Templeton.
Shade, The Changing Girl/Wonder Woman #1 (February 2018)
Written by Cecil Castellucci. Art by Mirka Andolfo.
Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye/Swamp Thing #1 (February 2018)
Written by Jon Rivera. Art by Langdon Foss.
Doom Patrol/JLA #1 (February 2018)
Written by Steve Orlando and Gerard Way. Art by Dale Eaglesham.
– By Rob Otto