Color me surprised! This is the best Mother Panic has been in months!
Oh, wait… No, no. Don’t get too excited, it wasn’t that good. It just wasn’t terrible.
I’m going to make this review as simple as possible. The main reason I enjoyed this chapter more than the last few, was because it actually told a cohesive story. I know that might sound odd, but the past three issues have dropped plots, changed the tone, jumped into new plots, and barely done anything to effectively set up a remotely coherent narrative. So, I guess what I’m really saying is… Kudos for actually telling a story?
After abruptly ending the plot with Hemsley (loose ends and all), and completely neglecting Gala, Mother Panic then shifted to introduce and focus on Pretty – a fellow product of the Gather House. Much like Violet, he’s a bit insane, and a living embodiment of vengeance. Initially, when the two crossed paths, Violet and Pretty bonded. It was odd and out of character for Violet, but on some levels worked. Violet soon learned that Pretty was willing to take much more drastic measures to enact vengeance than Violet, and now the two oppose each other… Apparently the moment Houser starts moving one direction, she then immediately decides to take a sharp turn in another direction. It’s a bit irritating for me, because the moment I feel as though something is developing, it changes. I ultimately feel as though I can’t become invested because nothing is ever fully realized.
That’s not the case here, though. The dysfunction between Pretty and Violet is slowly increasing, and Pretty now views Violet as a threat to his mission. As far as he’s concerned, she’s now the enemy. With momentum on his side, Pretty goes after Violet, invading her home, and discovers a world of surprises he hadn’t planned for.
Some questions I’ve had since Mother Panic’s debut are hinted at in this issue, and I feel a slight feeling of progression; however, I don’t know if this is substantial information considering the source. In addition to this, moments that felt completely disconnected in previous issues come together to play a part in this issue – building to end in a gross (I say that with love), gruesome, conclusion. While I can see the potential of future plots concerning certain characters, I honestly don’t know where the plot can go next. We’re only six issues in, and I have a weird suspicion that we’ve essentially completed two arcs now – neither of them ever feeling as though they were fully realized, or that they even accomplished anything worthwhile. I guess where there is a positive, there is also a negative.
Mother Panic isn’t the only store that I’ve felt has suffered over the past few months either. ”Gotham Radio” has also suffered a struggle with quality recently, but I’m happy to say that it returns to great form this month! I appreciated these shorts early on because they approached a very bleak, yet real, perspective of vigilantism. This chapter reverts back to that, and is written so well that it’s deserving of a complete lift to be included as a scene in a Batman film. So much is said in this chapter – whether your personally agree with it or not – that resonates deeply.
The Art: I’m starting to get used to Crystal’s art, so it isn’t as off-putting as it was initially, but I still feel as though he is the wrong artist for this title. I miss Tommy Lee Edwards more and more with each issue, and wish he would come back to the title. And in some ways, I feel as though that is kind of the case. While Edwards isn’t returning to Mother Panic, John Paul Leon (Detective Comics “Terminal”) takes over art duties next month. That should bring a much elevated and appropriate visual element to the book, and hopefully the narrative will continue to improve as well.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Pretty. In my opinion, Pretty was the VIP of this issue. Not only did he successfully (and finally) kill Mr. Layton, but his attempt to go after Violet proved fruitful in a few respects… Well for us anyway. His invasion helped provide a little insight into the woman who’s been helping Violet with her mother, and also solidified Ratcatcher’s role in the plot. Plus, he actually feels creepy in this issue. As I said earlier, it’s not great, but Pretty at least demanded my attention in this issue.
Rat Food. I never would have guessed that Pretty would have his face eaten off by rats going into this issue, but the moment Violet’s mother rounded them up, I knew where this was going. Whether you saw it coming or not, the idea of it is still super gruesome and cringe worthy. Pretty’s response afterwards is equally cringeworthy, and I have to wonder if his story is finished now, or if he’ll rear his ugly head again in the future.
Mother Panic. Yet again, the weakest part of a book I’m reading is the title character. At this point, Violet is growing less and less interesting, and the people around her are starting to steal the spotlight. At this point, she’s losing the mysteriousness and depth that made her unique, and she’s beginning to come off as one-dimensional. Also, am I the only one that thinks she looks like she could be a goofy Darkwing Duck sidekick under Crystal’s pencil?
Adult. The “Mature Readers” warning feels as though it’s there strictly because of the cussing now. The first issue dealt with some seriously dark and twisted plots, but now the most “mature” aspect of this book is the word “fuck.” I’m starting to view Mother Panic as one of those kids that endlessly claims that they’re “mature,” when it’s so clear they’re not. Just saying…
- You’ve enjoyed the Pretty story arc.
- You’re just waiting for John Paul Leon takes over art duties next month.
Overall: Mother Panic continues to suffer from a number of problems – mostly relatability with readers – but manages to see a slight improvement this month! Hopefully this is the beginning of a positive trend, because I would greatly enjoy it if the script improved as John Paul Leon steps in to helm the art.