Jody Houser’s damaged, badass, take no crap from anybody superhero is back this week and she’s still out for a bit of revenge. She deserves the release, as she was tortured in a awful orphanage in Gotham, but how is issue #5? Is it good?
Mother Panic #5 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? The official summary reads:
While hunting a new target, Mother Panic may have found her first ally in the strange and enigmatic Pretty. But nothing involving Gather House is ever what it appears to be. Can Pretty really be trusted? And what exactly is going on in Violet Paige’s basement?
Why does this book matter?
Shawn Crystal joins Houser adding a cartoony element that is capable of making the more twisted visuals even more twisted. On top of that, Violet Paige is a complicated protagonist who’s fun to figure out as the story goes along.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Jody Houser writes another good issue, this time integrating nightmare memories of Violet Paige’s time in the orphanage with the current events of the series. The mother character gets a bit more page time this issue and that element seems to be developed more. The mother character was always an oddity, but it appears she’ll become more influential as time goes on. A key scene later in the issue helps cue us into Violet’s current state of mind as she attempts to go out on the town and make an appearance. She cuts loose a bit, but you get the impression she’s not where she really wants to be.
Crystal’s art continues to articulate how twisted Violet’s time at the orphanage was via page layouts that remove the gutters in one seamless collection of images. This helps convey the nightmare-like memories as they populate over the page and her mind. There’s also an interesting use of kaleidoscopic color in the sky (you can see one below) that makes the city’s horizon wild and filled with energy. One of the more interesting visual changes is how the mother is depicted; she’s somewhat younger looking, but also a bit more conniving in her expressions. Visually you can get the feeling something is up with her.
Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s lettering is a big part of why the character shines through in this book. The text has a bit of character all its own and when Violet Paige is in costume there’s a great red shadow box behind the text box that makes it stand out.
The backup by Jim Krueger and artist Phil Hester further develops the radio show storyline this time integrating a bit more of a supernatural element. It’s a short few pages, but the plot is definitely thickening in an interesting way.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The overall story still feels somehow untethered from what came before it. Mother Panic has a mission, but what that is and how her friend is really helping is a bit muddled. Pretty continues to be an enigma that makes little sense for Mother Panic to team up with at all. Not much is given in regards to their relationship so you won’t care much about that dynamic one way or another. The inclusion of the bad memories from the orphanage is helping flesh things out for Paige, but her current state of mind is erratic and hard to lock down.
Is It Good?
The art settles down a bit and feels stronger this issue as Violet’s memories continue to be dug up for our viewing pleasure. Overall the narrative feels too loose, but it’s still one of the more easily accessible Young Animal books on the shelf.