Review: Mother Panic #2
With timely flashbacks and outbursts of violence, Mother Panic #2 continues to be the darkest vigilante comic set in Gotham City. Writer Jody Houser digs deeper into Violet’s screwed up mind and unearths her motivation to become a crime fighter: she was manipulated and used by the man she trusted most, namely, her father. And her quest for vengeance continues at a pretty twisted Gotham social outing (A supervillain themed costume party.) as she uses her social status, gadgets, and even sexuality to get close to Hemsley, a wealth child trafficker so she can take him out.
Tommy Lee Edwards’ art and colors captures the trashy vibe of Gotham’s wealthiest. It takes a special class of sociopath to thrive in this city and Houser’s dialogue for the big social gathering reeks of privilege and bragging about everything from expensive special effects makeup to new sports car. (Of course, sports car guy is an old man talking to younger women and happens to be Hemsley.) Evil and chaos is just a joke to these one-percenters, and these pages reminded me of the time in 2005 when Prince Harry of England showed up to a costume party in a Nazi uniform. When you have enough money, you don’t have to care about the terror that permeates the world around you or have to be a decent human being.
Edwards uses all kinds of gross and garish colors for this scene before filtering them out into pure white and single color tones when Violet switches to her Mother Panic persona. To go along with his color palette skills, Edwards gives characters personality through gesture as Violet flips off some fuckboy she slept with so she could be closer to Hemsley and his special car shipment. She has an air of casual disdain while strolling among the wealthy Gothamites whereas as Mother Panic, she is a blunt instrument with her snarky inner dialogue replaced by single word or syllable outbursts of profanity.
There are a couple pivotal sequences in Mother Panic #2 where Houser and Edwards throw us into Violet’s moral compass. To kill or not to kill is the major question that vigilantes ask themselves with Batman and The Punisher falling on opposite sides of the spectrum. Mother Panic is in a gray area where she has killed but hesitates to now even when she has Hemsley on the ropes. Edwards uses a super intense color palette as Mother Panic totals Hemsley’s sports car with her fists and gadgets and easily gets the information about his child slave ring. However, then he and Houser cut to a light blue flashback of her wanting to not kill a deer as a child even when it’s in her sights.
Except the big twist is that Violet killed her father with his own rifle as a child because he wanted to sell her as a sex slave for money. He was a terrible human being, and the fiery recoil of the rifle as she guns him down is cathartic. It’s also deeply depressing as this is just a young girl doing this. Mother Panic’s trauma-filled past informs her present as she takes out criminals everywhere on behalf of her mother, who a cop thinks is being held hostage by her daughter, and then spills his guts about issues with his husband/boyfriend and how he wants to be a nurse. Mother Panic’s pursuer isn’t some self-righteous Javert wannabe, but probably the most decent human being who has popped up in the series.
Mother Panic #2 continues its fragmented narrative style, but Jody Houser and Tommy Lee Edwards continue to embrace the sleaziness of Gotham City and a new vigilante that is more than a match for it. There is also a three-page backup story about Gotham radio host and Batman supporter who was murdered by writer Jim Krueger and artists Phil Hester and Ande Parks that also looks at the moral implications of being a vigilante albeit with cleaner, more Bruce Timm-esque art.
Story: Jody Houser Art: Tommy Lee Edwards
Story: 8 Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics/Young Animal provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review