Looking to revitalize its comics for a new generation of readers, DC Entertainment is launching Young Animal, a new imprint featuring a line of edgy, eccentric superhero yarns under the direction of Gerard Way, pop music star and former lead vocalist for the alternative rock band My Chemical Romance, who also happens to be an experienced Eisner Award–winning comics writer.

The North American comics market—long dominated by the superhero genre—is being transformed by the growing popularity of manga, Euro comics, and nonsuperhero indie comics. DC’s Young Animal line is a move to craft a line of comics for fans looking for new comics, as well as fresh takes on the superhero genre.

Young Animal will debut this month with Doom Patrol, the first of four new series to be released under the imprint. Doom Patrol (written by Way, with art by Nick Derington) is a revival of a quirky team of superheroes. The imprint will also release Shade the Changing Girl (written by YA novelist Cecil Castellucci with art by Marley Zarcone), another revival, this time a psychedelic-superhero series featuring an alien hero (based on Shade the Changing Man), with the lead character no longer male but now a trippy teen girl heroine. Next is Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye (written by Way and Jon Rivera, with art by Michael Avon Oeming), starring a father-daughter team of scientist heroes looking for adventure. And finally, Mother Panic features an original character conceived by Way; the series is written by Jody Houser and set in Gotham City. The character, also named Mother Panic, is a new and mysterious female superhero (and stylish debutante) who balances attendance at glittering social events and battling Gotham criminals in the manner of fellow Gothamite Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Not just a celebrity comics writer, Way is a former intern at DC Comics who published comics with Image and Dark Horse during the years he performed with My Chemical Romance. In 2008, he won an Eisner for Umbrella Academy (Image), a comics series about a team of unconventional superheroes he created with artist Gabriel Ba.

In a joint interview with Way and Jamie Rich, group editor for Vertigo and Young Animal, Way cited Vertigo, DC’s nonsuperhero comics line, and Image Comics as models for Young Animal. “Young Animal is different, but it is inspired by Vertigo and [its previous editorial directors] Karen Berger and Shelley Bond. We want to start something new, something on the fringe of the DC universe. Young Animal is supposed to be experimental, a testing ground,” Way said. Rich agreed, emphasizing that “we believe it will be more inviting to readers who are not into superheroes, or even into comics at all.”

Rich, a graphic novel author who was editor-in-chief of indie house Oni Press before joining DC, embraced the notion that Young Animal will produce “indie-style” comics. “Is Young Animal indie? Yes, that’s the audience. Gerard will attract fans of his music and fans of Image books like Umbrella Academy and [Brian K. Vaughan’s] Saga,” Rich said.

It’s a measure of the confidence DC has in Way that he is also writing two of the series. Way said his work on Doom Patrol, once written by acclaimed comics writer Grant Morrison, will include “the best of a lot of the series. It’s a tribute piece to what came before in an effort to create something new.” He plans to use the mystery around Cave Carson’s cybernetic eye—a spooky unexplained technology embedded in Carson—as a literary device (“How did he get it?” Way says). And he said Mother Panic will be about how “men behave badly but aren’t vilified for it. Mother Panic is a vigilante like Bruce Wayne, but she’s a woman, new at this, and trying to figure it out.”

Gerard, who is taking a break from performing, said he is happy to transition from pop-music stardom to the relative anonymity of being a comics writer and editor. “It suits me,” he said of working in publishing, noting that DC has given him “the freedom to do my thing.” He added, “I was never too excited about the [music] fame—I didn’t play the game anyway; I never did any of the red carpet stuff.”