We present preliminary results from two parallel programs to search for new substellar companions to nearby, young M-stars and to characterize the atmospheres of known planetary mass and temperature substellar companions. For the M-star survey, we are analyzing high angular resolution archival data on systems within 15pc, complementing a subset with well-determined young ages based on measurements of several age indicators. The results include stellar and substellar companion candidates, which we are currently pursuing with follow-up second epoch images. The characterization component of the project involves using LBT LMIRCam and MMT ARIES direct imaging and spectroscopy data to investigate the atmospheres of known young substellar companions with masses overlapping the planetary regime. These atmospheric studies will represent an analogous comparison to the atmospheres of young imaged planets, and provide a means to fundamentally test evolutionary models, enhancing our understanding of the overall substellar population.