As writer Jody Houser continues to peel back and reveal more of how Mother Panic got where she is, a person wearing a body bag continues to kill. Just another day in Gotham.
Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: John Paul Leon (Colors by Dave Stewart)
Publisher: DC Comics
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
No one ever said detective work was Violet’s strong suit, but she’s never been one to let details get in her way. Mother Panic’s got a hunch about the new murderer in Gotham, but are impulsiveness and a thirst for vengeance really the right tools to stop a killer?
Why does this book matter?
Mother Panic has been one of the more superhero style series from the DC Young Animal line and on top of that it’s set in Gotham. As Houser explores Mother Panic’s tragic past we also witness another vigilante with a different style attempt to save others in Gotham. It’s at once unique, but familiar.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
There are a few things done very well in this issue and they all revolve around Violet trying to keep it together. She’s still figuring out how to be a hero but also suffering from some major pain issues due to her implants acting up. Via flashback, we learn Violet went through some heavy shit involving some major violence and on top of all that Violet has to sell out family to get closer to a villain. There’s some heavy drama going on and that drives the reader forward.
Houser always keeps you on your toes, with scenes changing multiple times to break up the story and make it interesting. A highlight includes a scene with Ratcatcher, who has taken up living in Violet’s basement and ends up giving her some advice. The advice comes from his knowledge of how Batman operates and he’d know since he got his butt kicked so many times. It adds a wrinkle to the story that ties to the Batman franchise, but not overtly.
John Paul Leon’s art is so damn retro. The coloring by Dave Stewart adds a layer to the work too and it always feels dynamic with a great sense of depth in every page. It’s a wonder how detailed it looks because on one level it’s almost composed of shapes with subtle lines to pull it all out. It’s simple in its styling, yet adds a journalistic flavor as though it were torn from files. It suits this character and continues to add a dark tone. A major win in the art department is when Violet’s back pain flares up. A silhouette of Violet in red, with only black cutting her out, showcases the extremity of the pain and, especially given the monotone color palette, it’s striking as all hell.
Nuns suck dude.
It can’t be perfect can it?
A prevailing issue with this series has been the confusing way it unfurls Violet’s backstory. Flashbacks come and go, sometimes seemingly at random, which makes it difficult to piece it all together. There’s also the fact that she runs a superhero operation with ease. The Gather House is a cool concept, but how did she build it, why do folks work for her, and what is the deal with the mother? These are questions you’re still asking yourself at issue #8 and there doesn’t seem to be any rush to fill in these blanks. That makes the character feel a bit wishy-washy and unclear. The issue itself is paced and plotted well, but these lingering question marks hinder the overall experience.
Is It Good?
A well paced and plotted issue, Mother Panic is an entertaining read that fills in more of the hero’s past well, delivering some interesting detective work.