After a slight delay, Mother Panic returns with an unexpected plot change, and a confrontation from the Bat(woman). I’m not going to say I’m disappointed by either of these progressions, but they both feel a little… sudden. In fact, it almost feels like we missed an issue…
Mother Panic crashed onto the scene with an odd, vulgar bang. Less of a heroic story, and more of a mission of vengeance and anger; I’ve enjoyed this title’s darker elements, as well as the mystery behind Violet Paige, has driven my intrigue for the character. Hardly a likeable protagonist, Paige somewhat soars because of her unlikability. She refuses to pull her punches and even appears to purposely go to the extremes. So you can imagine the amount of intrigue I had when she didn’t murder the antagonist she’s been following.
As you know, Violet’s recent escapades as the vigilante, Mother Panic, takes place in Gotham City. We all know who rules Gotham (I mean… this entire site is devoted to the guy), and he’s not going to allow a new presence operate freely without his examination. This issue kicks off with Batman and Batwoman investing Violet, with Batwoman stepping forward to make contact. Violet isn’t exactly a fan of the Bats, so the contact quickly turns into an altercation. Edward’s art isn’t the best when it comes to fight sequences, but this encounter is better than I expected. Would I consider it great? No, but it does the job. Also, as much as I enjoy seeing Batwoman and Mother Panic actually converse, I can’t fully appreciate the timing of it because it feels like it built so quickly.
At the moment, Mother Panic is tracking a man named Hemsley through Gotham. Her vendetta with him started after discovering he’d been doing some sick things with kids. What has he been up to? That’s a mystery to us, but we get answers in this issue… and it’s weird. What’s even weirder though, is how we find out.
Hemsley is nowhere to be found during this reveal, and the reason for that is a bit disappointing. Scratch that… It’s incredibly disappointing because it severely damages the momentum of this book. Thankfully, Gala – the sadistic artist featured in the first issue – makes a reappearance following last month’s absence. I’m excited to see her return, but this is also where I start wondering what in the hell is going on in this book. The plot progression feels like it came out of left field… and not in the Lost-esque, “We have to go back!” sort of way that keeps you tuning in to each new episode (or in this case, issue). No, instead, I’m left scratching my head because it doesn’t feel like the best progression from where we left off, or at least not this soon.
The entire plot concerning Mother Panic, Hemsley, and Gala feels as though it skipped an issue or two, which subsequently jolts this book off course. I know my assessment of all of this is muddled and vague, but it’s only because I don’t want to spoil anything. You can find a more in-depth discussion of this in my breakdowns at the bottom of the review though, so check that out for the full details.
As for the plot covering Violet’s past and mother, it continues to shed light where needed. Then, unfortunately, more questions are presented which only result in me scratching my head even more. What the hell is going on!?! Violet’s mother grows more interesting, and her past is still engaging as it deals with the aftermath of her killing her father. The big mystery now, is the introduction of another family member. The best way I can describe the story at the moment, is unbalanced. There’s a really good book somewhere in here, but someone is starting to smear dirt all over it… Or maybe it’s poop. I can’t tell yet.
The Art: I’m a fan of Edwards’ art, and have praised his stylized grittiness, as well as his use of symbolism. I’ve also warned that his stylization can take away from the details of his lines. This issue in particular appeared to suffer from creativity though. Part of this stemmed from a lack of symbolism in the script itself – an aspect that has waned with each issue. Even beyond that, the panels themselves appear to be more basic. The “flare” that I found in the previous issue isn’t here.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Hemsley is dead. What the hell!?! The cat and mouse chase between Mother Panic and Hemsley was one of the best aspects of this book. Aside from the mystery of Violet’s past, this plot was the driving momentum, and now it has ended abruptly. The worst part is, Violet had no part in his death, unless she accidentally did beat him too hard when she attacked him. It’s a little unclear… Regardless, he’s gone.
Gala. I like Gala as a character, but I expected her to be the “big bad” behind the “general.” Going into this issue, I assumed that Hemsley would be the main antagonist for this arc, then Gala would step into the fray for the second or third arc. What I find really disappointing though, is that Gala reveals her commission for Hemsley, rather than Mother Panic finding Hemsley with it. This shift steals so much gratification in seeing Violet fully deal with Hemsley before going after him. Plus, why would Gala need, or even want, the kids there for Hemsley’s art project? And are those tubes or chains? This entire bit isn’t set up well at all.
Oh brother. Violet has a half brother? What? Where is he now? Why haven’t we heard or him before now? There better be a worthwhile explanation to this, and it better not end as abruptly as Hensley did!
Watch it burn. Alright, we all know Violet’s mother is crazy, but I can’t help but think that there’s something diabolical about the way she says, “We can watch it all burn down together.”
Gotham Radio. The support story, “Gotham Radio” continues to be an enjoyable read, but it too is not as good as the first two chapters. Where the first two chapters were dark and reflective, this chapter just reminds me of the political rants I see on my Facebook timeline every day… It’s a little annoying.
- You want to see Batwoman and Mother Panic come to blows.
- You’re curious to learn about the aftermath of Mother Panic’s last encounter with Hemsley.
- You’re enjoying “Gotham Radio.”
Overall: Mother Panic stumbles in this issue, but it hasn’t completely dropped the ball. I’m not certain where the story will go from here because so much of the anticipation and suspense ends abruptly, and without much satisfaction. Perhaps a little more interaction with Mother Panic and the Bats will help redeem this title a little.