The title of this issue is “Broken Things.” It’s kind of like when life imitates art, because there’s no better way to describe this issue… Broken.
I don’t know what in the hell is going on behind the scenes of Mother Panic, but I feel like there’s a lot of meddling. The first two issues, in my opinion, were quite strong. They were dark, well written, and initiated a gripping narrative. It felt like there was a clear direction and plan for the series – one that I looked forward to discovering. Issues three and four basically undue all of that.
I’m not saying DC editorial is at fault here, because I have no basis to make that accusation. I do, however, have a hunch. I almost feel as though Mother Panic was pitched, DC liked the idea of it, the first set of scripts came in (issues one and two), and DC hated them and demanded a change but ultimately went with the first two issues because they were on a time table… Or, Houser could just be a mediocre writer who apparently doesn’t follow through with plans… Whatever the cause is, this book is getting bad.
This issue barely touches on anything that’s come before it, aside from a few panels pertaining to Violet’s mother, and the Gather House. Granted, the Gather House has popped up from time to time since this book’s debut, but it’s never been the focus. In this issue, it is… indirectly. So if you’re following along, the focus and plot driver of the first two issues abruptly end in issue three, and as far as I can tell, are abandoned, to now focus on the Gather House… kind of.
Violet is more or less recognizable here, but her characterization isn’t consistent. She’s quickly moving from acting like an asshole because she’s dealing with a lot of f’d up shit, to just being an asshole for the sake of a front… Yeah, that’s a step down in quality. Violet has transitioned from a complex, odd, unstable character to a shallow jerk. She was already hard to like, but now she’s becoming unbearable.
A new character is introduced in this issue, and he apparently has ties to the Gather House. Had there been more of a focus on the Gather House prior to this issue, I might have found this reveal to be quite engaging but we haven’t. What makes matters worse, is that Violet just happens to sense a connection with this guy, and is a subject of the Gather House – which we also find out she was too… Again, if we knew anything about the Gather House and Violet’s connection to it prior to this issue, this would have been a much more effective sell! But… We didn’t.
To continue to make matters worse, Violet decides to turn all “mother hen” with this new guy, and hugs him… Wait… What? So the woman who is on a rampage of vengeance and violence, shows no signs of compassion for anyone other than her mother, and hates anything remotely noble, suddenly decides she’s going to connect with this random stranger and comfort him, simply based on a hunch? And, AND, said person, who has blown up two buildings within the course of this issue openly welcomes her comfort and trusts Violet? No. Nope, I don’t buy it. Oh, and I forgot to mention… Ratcatcher shows up… Cause, you know, the book needed that… *Sigh*
Once the main story ended, I literally thought, “Really? That’s it? What the hell!?!” I then thought, “Well at least I have Gotham Radio.” But guess what! It takes a dive as well! I wish I’d purchased a physical copy of this issue instead of reading digitally. At least then, I could gain the satisfaction of throwing this issue in the trash!
The Art: Tommy Lee Edwards has done three issues – one of which was delayed a few weeks. I’m not sure if he’s slow, or if he’s wanting to jump ship (I wouldn’t be surprised by the latter considering this title’s current trend), but we already have a fill-in artist, and it’s only the fourth issue… If that weren’t bad enough, the artist stepping in, Shawn Crystal, delivers work that looks nothing like Edwards’. Edwards creates dark, gritty art that fits the tone of the narrative. Crystal’s art, while really good, looks like it’s meant more for a Saturday morning cartoon. It doesn’t mesh… And it hinders the narrative quite a bit. Could DC not pick up Gary Brown? I mean, Brown and Edwards could have alternated issues, and it would have been difficult to tell the difference… But this? This is distracting.
- You didn’t like the first two issues of Mother Panic.
Overall: As quickly as Mother Panic built suspense and intrigue for me, it completely destroys it within the same amount of time. This issue is bad. I don’t know what the cause is for the distinct and sudden changes, but it feels as though nobody is on the same page, and everyone is now half-assing their work. I’m not looking forward to the next chapter, because I’m afraid this title is going to sink even lower. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a prime example of “Broken Things.”