Jody Houser has created one of the best superhero experiences for adults and that’s not just because her hero has a filthy mouth.
Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: John Paul Leon
Publisher: DC Comics
So what’s it about?
The summary reads:
A life Mother Panic once saved is again struck by tragedy, causing her to take a deeper look at her mission of revenge and her role in Gotham City. And with the shadow of the Bat looming ever closer, she may not have much time to decide where she stands!
Why does this book matter?
A new story arc starts now, so if you’ve been waiting to jump in this week is a good one for those curious about Mother Panic. With new artist John Paul Leon, Houser is primed to deliver a gritty, real world look at Violet Paige’s past.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Opening with one of the kidnapped girls from a previous story now with her family, you know Houser is up to no good. Quickly we encounter a new villain in Gotham (new to me anyway) and Violet Page has a murder case to solve. She’s unaware of this transgression, though she’s kicking villainous butt nonetheless. Houser bounces around scenes very well in this excellently paced issue. Violet beats on baddies, checks in on her mom, see’s to get help from some compatriots, and even sights Batman. This all builds towards Violet helping the little girl, which adds a building expectation in the issue. This naturally blends into some key flashbacks that reveal there’s a lot more to Violet than we may have thought. By the end of the issue, you’ll feel like Houser never let up and expertly delivered each story beat which makes the entire issue a huge win.
Whoa, creeping me out.
Leon’s art fantastic and brings the series back to the gritty realism that Tommy Lee Edwards used in the first story arc. Violet’s white costume is particularly striking, like a beacon in a world that’s dark and monotone. That’s partly because, yes, the color is pretty dark and monotone. It helps Mother Panic pop in every panel and draws your focus in. That’s a good thing because Leon draws a really cool Mother Panic. The angular parts of her costume look like some kind of mech, but with most of the costume hugging her body it’s also functional. There’s also a really cool use of smaller panels to convey pain in Violet’s head or a progression that leads to Violet’s mother’s domain.
The use of color is also fantastic and Dave Stewart will dazzle you here. The trick of it, why it’s so good, is it’s very subtle. In the scene with Violet’s mother for instance, Stewart uses red sparingly, which makes the tea being poured pop and later a top down view of the tea in a teacup looks striking. In a way Leon’s art style is simplistic and Stewart brings it out. That includes the fantastic white of Mother Panic’s costume.
Great fight choreography in this one!
It can’t be perfect can it?
Batman’s inclusion, however brief, does seem like a one off that’s pointless. Then again it does add to the strangeness of Gotham.
Is It Good?
This is the best issue of Mother Panic to date. Mixing action, incredible reveals of character, and an art style that’s striking as hell, it’s impossible to tear your eyes from the page. Without a doubt, this is must-read comic book storytelling.