Cass finally feels “complete” to me. The character has evolved through a wild journey and tough situations both life-threatening and banal, none of it by her own agency. She didn’t want this form and she certainly didn’t want to go through these past 13 issues. Starting here, she’s taking that agency back.

The collar-with-tag started as a tongue-in-cheek accessory in her original character design. (Check out this old deviantArt pic to have a look at that!) When I started drawing the comic I thought it would be thematic for her to start with a regular choker and then add the tag after gaining her animal traits, as a way to show her embracing her form in a sort of ironic way. But she never really embraced it, so there didn’t seem to be a proper time to introduce it early on.

Eventually I got the idea that it could be a present Noah gives her, which would give the tag more symbolic meaning. That’s when I introduced Cass’ distaste for labels. I wrote a conversation in “I, Abomination” where she talks about this with Noah. After that, I waited until there was a good opportunity for Noah to give her the tag. But, as with most of my long-term story ideas, it took a backseat to the school hijinks in the back half of Phase Two, so their relationship didn’t progress as quickly as expected.

This is the first “regular-length” chapter of Phase Three, after the 36-page “Class Warfare Part II” and the 18-page “The Mother Trilogy”—the latter of which was shortened to make up for some of the pages gobbled up by the former. This way, the eventual trade paperback would have a reasonable number of pages and not be cost-prohibitive.