Fast-paced, quick-witted, subversive, emotional, and brilliantly, beautifully bizarre.
The third issue of Motherlands just might be its most insane issue yet, packed full of amoebic protrusions, neuroboosted placentamorphs, and the most messed up mother-daughter spa day of all time.
In this issue, we find interdimensional bounty hunter Tab and her mother closer than ever to acquiring their target and finally being out of each other’s hair for good. But before they catch him, they have some time to kill, so Selena decides to treat her daughter to a visit to the shudderbooths of String 38221001 to get her aura straightened out. Despite some protestations, Tab quickly discovers why it’s one of her mom’s favorite spots in the multiverse, and they spend a bit of time relaxing and at least attempting to talk to one another. It speaks volumes to the strength of Si Spurrier’s characterization and dialogue that scenes like these are just as compelling and comedic as the book’s louder action sequences, though there are plenty of those too.
This issue also sees the welcome return of regular series artist Rachael Stott, who somehow turns in an even more visually stunning issue than the first. Stott gets plenty to work with here, and she nails every weird, awesome, gross, comedic, somber, and shocking moment with clarity and style. The back half of the issue is almost non-stop action, and there’s a particularly stunning double-page spread that showcases the artist’s fantastic eye for movement and composition. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if some Big 2 editors are sending Stott an email or two after seeing this issue.
Stott also does a great job giving the women of the series strong, believable bodies. Sure, Selena used to be a salacious sex symbol, but both her and her daughter are also professional bounty hunters. They should look like they could beat the crap out of you, and they do, but not in a way that’s cartoonish or fetishized. There’s a lot going on in both the writing and the art that subverts standard gender and genre tropes, and it makes for much more interesting and genuine reading experience.
The series continues to dig into themes of acceptance and generational tension, as we get more flashbacks to Tab’s childhood, when her mother’s career was at its prime. We see Selena clearly being used and hurt during this time, but it never excuses her passing that pain down onto her daughter. We see the flashback scenes through Tab’s eyes, and they visually have a sort of cold detachment to them that’s communicated beautifully through the coloring of Felipe Sobreiro, who gives the scenes a muted grey-blue look, except with splashes of red to highlight moments of heightened emotion. It works brilliantly and gives the flashbacks a darker tone that sets them apart from the scenes in the present without feeling out of place in the story.
Motherlands #3 is the latest in a string of fantastic issues, and if it maintains this level of quality for the next three, it will deserve to be mentioned alongside some of the other Vertigo greats. Motherlands is fast-paced, quick-witted, subversive, emotional, and brilliantly, beautifully bizarre, and should be on the pull-list of every discerning reader of sci-fi comics.