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Review: Motherlands #1

Motherlands #1 is a pretty damn bleak mother/daughter story, and no one will be comparing it to Lady Bird any time soon. But writer Si Spurrier, artist Rachel Stott, and colorist Felipe Sobreiro capture a little of the attitude, piss, and vinegar of old school 2000 AD progs in a comic that Vertigo on the cover. They embrace the dystopia and a world that features psychic abilities and multiversal travel as well as reality television and nursing homes. After a flimsy flashback that does a decent job establishing the main “sci-fi” part of this new world and a tough, effective chase sequence, Motherlands finds its footing by honing in on the relationship between Tabitha and her mother, Selena, who are both trawlers aka interdimensional bounty hunters. However, Tabitha treats her job like a beat cop or something she does to pay rent and keep food on the table while Selena did hers to be famous like the Kim Kardashian of trawlers complete with fancy outfits, one liners, and interpersonal drama.

The grotesqueness of Spurrier’s writing matches both Stott’s art and the world of Motherlands. Most of the issue features Tabitha tracking a hapless criminal, who has a real back hair issue and spends the entire chase talking about how he used to masturbate to her mom when he was kid. It’s really demeaning for Tabitha, who claims that trawling is “just her job”, but has a little bit of pent-up resentment that she isn’t getting any fulfillment out of her life and gets compared to her mother all the time. Spurrier makes Tabitha’s mark one of the most annoying fuckers in the multiverse while Stott lets the reader earn a little catharsis as he takes two slugs in the knee cap and then gets his pelvis broken at the main hub where Tabitha collects her bounty. Sobreiro indulges in a little disgusting ketchup red for the scenes of violence while laying on a nostalgic, fresh shade of lipstick red for the flashbacks of Selena doing her thing. The past was definitely more glamorous if not more problematic.

Until the plot twist at the end, Motherlands #1 is by no means a hopeful or even fun comic book. However, in the tradition of the best science fiction, it is a fantastic metaphor for millennials and Baby Boomer’s attitude towards capitalism and by extension, work and life. Selena sees the life of a trawler and jumping between dimensions as highly exciting and mugs for the camera wearing sunglasses like a movie star while Tabitha wears more functional armor and hunts down a perp like she’s punching a time clock. She knows that she’s just a cog in a machine or a “clusterfuck” as one supporting character calls the hopping between various dimensions. Tabitha doesn’t try to fit her life into some kind of epic narrative like her narrative until the last few pages when things gets downright Skywalker-esque, but in a FUBAR kind of way.

Motherlands #1 is a rough bit of SF from a talented creative team, and with the lion’s share of the exposition and worldbuilding out of the way, Si Spurrier, Rachel Stott, and Felipe Sobreiro are free to lean on the prickly, yet interesting relationship between Selena and Tabitha as they hunt down one hell of a bounty in a multiverse that makes the multiverse in Rick and Morty look downright utopian. (I’ve never seen a single episode of that show so suck it, nerds.)

Story: Si Spurrier Art: Rachel Stott Colors: Felipe Sobreiro
Story: 7 Art: 8.2 Overall: 7.6 Recommendation: Read

Vertigo provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.