Last month’s Mother Panic #1 introduced an interesting new twist on an old idea. Gotham has always had its street-level heroes since Batman got his start in Detective Comics. While Gotham’s vigilantes team-up in DC’s excellent current run of that very same title, DC’s Young Animal imprint gives us Violet Paige, or Mother Panic. While she shares some aspects of Bruce Wayne’s Batman origin (a traumatic past, dead parents, a privileged upbringing) that is where the similarities end.
Mother Panic wears all white, which is either to differentiate her from the bat family heroes, or a middle finger to the Batman ethos of blending into the shadows, or possibly both. She is loud and in your face, and even though you can see her coming, there’s nothing you can do about it.
She also has some hinted-at, but never explained physical enhancements, a teched-out helmet, and a really cool personal aircraft. Aside from aesthetic differences, however, the real difference from Batman is that Mother Panic is on a revenge quest. She doesn’t care about the downtrodden masses unable to protect themselves (or so she says). She wants to match blood for blood. We still don’t know how her father died, but presumably it was no accident.
Picking Up the Pieces
This issue opens from where we left off last month. Mother Panic is going to help some kids at the behest of the bodyguard she questioned last issue. The whole time she is questioning her own motivation. What am I doing? I’m not in this to help people. But she does it anyways. Or she tries to.
From there we get a flashback that reveals some of her history with Hemsley. It seems like she was part of a horrible transaction between Hemsley and her father. This reveal was pretty shocking, almost to the point of being over-the-top, but more is revealed later that puts it in a somewhat different light.
Gotham’s Rich Elite
Back in the present, Violet is attending a costume ball where she expects to find Hemsley. It’s a party for the Gotham Victim’s fund, which presumably means a charity for victims of Gotham’s various rogues. This is a fun contrast to the current run of Detective Comics in which victims of Batman’s rogues are fighting back. Anyways, it seems to be the chic thing to dress as villains at this ball, which is in poor taste. Judging by the attitude of the uber-rich there, poor taste is ‘in’. Despite the facade of charity work, they are mostly there to be seen, and care little for the troubles of others.
Violet overhears Hemsley bragging about a pick-up he has scheduled, so having her intel, she leaves the party and snags a guy to take to bed for the evening.
From there, we catch back up with the bodyguard. He’s loose in the Paige mansion, and finds his way to mother’s garden. They have a mad teaparty right there in the atrium, but Violet sees all. We weren’t sure if this was a flashback or flash forward, or if Violet is watching the footage at a later time, because Violet is still in the bedroom of her night’s conquest.
We see some extensive scarring on her, and it’s not clear if this is from her operations or from some form of abuse. There is still so little we really know about her.
But one thing we do know. She is antisocial as hell. After her bedroom funtimes, she makes sure that guy will never call again by doing some artwork in her own blood all over the walls.
Then she races off to her rendezvous with Hemsley. He’s doing his pick-up as planned. It’s an exotic sports car, of which the affluent Hemsley apparently has a collection. Mother Panic attacks Hemsley, who give her the address where the children are being held. We know she intends to kill him, but she only succeeds in roughing him up. She appears genuinely frustrated with her inability to kill, and does millions of dollars in property damage instead.
Then finally, a continuation of the flashback from before reveals her father’s true intention with Hemsley (which isn’t what we thought at first, but is just as terrible), and we see how her father really died. What an ending.
And the Verdict
This issue revealed some nice juicy bits about Mother Panic’s origin and more about Violet’s character. The current story didn’t move forward much, but what we did get told us a lot about the characters, and we will take good characters anytime over an interesting plot about people we don’t care about.
Violet’s past is definitely troubled, and the way her father died is sure to have left lifelong scars. Speaking of scars, Violet’s body is covered with them and we’re still not sure where they came from.
What’s really interesting is Mother Panic’s inability to kill Hemsley when she is clearly out for blood. The way her father died seems to have left some understandable issue with death. Violet wants to believe that she is a cold heartless person with the ability to kill, but the story paints a much different picture of her. Despite her prickly facade, she is still a person with compassion and principles. It shows in her rush to aid the captive children despite them not being a priority of her revenge plan, and in her hesitation when the object of her hatred was at her mercy.
We get a little more about Violet’s sexual identity. Last issue, she was avoiding an old girlfriend, which lead us to believe she was a lesbian based on the context. This issue, she takes a man to bed for the night, and it is even commented on rather nastily by her chauffeur. Evidently, Violet is bisexual, but it still seems early to rush to conclusions about that considering the way this comic is leaving a trail of character breadcrumbs.
This issue grabbed us in a big way, and we can’t wait to see what is coming.
Also, we can’t forget a cameo from one of our favorite Gothamites. That just made us smile.
The art in this series continues to shine. The dark linework and deliberate use of color really work with the tone of the story. We continue to get some interesting images peppered in whenever Mothe Panic is putting some hurt on the bad guys. These striking bits of gothic art in pink and purples gives the comic some style, but we’re still not sure why they are there other than some visual flair.
Mother Panic is shaping up to be a very interesting character. This issue answered some questions and brought up some new ones, and we are on board for the ride. The tantalizing bat family teases give us some hope of a crossover, but we hope not too soon. We’d like to see this character able to stand on her own before she gets thrown into the mix with the whole bat family.
Mother Panic #2: A Work in Progress Part 2
Story: Jody Houser
Art: Tommy Lee Edwards
Letters: John Workman
All Images Courtesy of DC Comics