If you enjoyed the first three issues of Mother Panic, but gave up on this book when the second arc started… Then you should pick up this issue. Just trust me!
For the past few months, I’ve felt nothing but dread when I would sit down to read and review Mother Panic (as well as Justice League of America and Batgirl & the Birds of Prey… It’s 50% of the reason I’ve been so late with my reviews, so I apologize.). I don’t mean to sound like a whiner, but on top of everything else I’m doing, it can become draining. So imagine my relief when I read this issue, and really liked it!
Beginning with issue #4, Mother Panic essentially abandoned everything that had been built in the first three issues. The death of Hemsley threw this book off track and killed its momentum. This issue, in some ways, brings Hemsley back. No, he doesn’t come back from the dead, but the children he was using for his “art” do re-enter the equation.
A new villain makes his/her appearance in the opening pages, murdering the parents of a young girl. As it turns out, this girl was one of Hemsley’s victims. It’s unclear whether the villain is targeting these kids specifically, or if it’s just a coincidence. Either way, it creates some nice moments for Violet as she continues her internal struggle with identity.
One of the aspects I’ve missed lately about Violet, is her complexity. She’s had a screwed up life, and is still trying to find her way out of that mess. The past few issues have taken an immature approach to this conflict, but we’re finally returning to the approach to Violet that I want to get behind. We also learn more about her time at the Gather House, but these flashbacks are much more real, unsettling and sad than what we learned pretty went through. I’m sure the art played a large part in this, but even the writing feels elevated.
Violet isn’t the only one who feels as though she’s returned to her true form though. We also get to check back in with the supporting characters in this issue as well. Violet’s mother returns to her enigmatic form that made her interesting to begin with (and no, there’s no Ratcatcher here to ruin it). Along with her, we also get to see Dom (Hemsley’s old assistant), and we finally learn the name of the nurse/ assistant who has been helping Violet. But unlike the previous issues, these supporting characters feel as though they have a purpose for being here. They actually add to the narrative overall, and their relationships with one another actually feel like they’re developing into something that will be useful and worth reading.
The Art: John Paul Leon begins his time covering art, and I have to wonder why DC didn’t bring him in soon. He and Tommy Lee Edwards both exude similar tones in their work, and it’s a tone that I find fitting for Mother Panic. I look forward to his work in future issues, and appreciate the grimness that he brings back to the title.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Return to form. It’s nice to see the writing and tone return to the mature, complex levels that made me enjoy Mother Panic to begin with.
Service needed. Violet’s emotions may not be the only thing messed up with her. The experiments that she endured are starting to create physical problems for her. This is clearly foreshadowing problems for her down the road, but I’m curious to see what the long-term effects will be.
Compassion. Violet’s body isn’t the only thing in need of healing. Her soul needs quite a bit as well – something she gets a dose of when she visits the girl whose parents were murdered.
Dom. I love the idea that Dom has been keeping tabs on the kids Hemsley hurt. It shows a lot about his character that he would feel so much guilt even though he did nothing wrong.
They are what we have made them. Violet’s flashback of the Gather House is difficult. I thought her “programming” was metaphorical to represent mental trauma, but it appears as though she actually suffered some type of mental alterations. Never saw that coming…
There are things I could bring up, but I’m so happy that this book has turned itself around, that I’m just going to enjoy the moment.
- You enjoyed issues 1-3.
- You hated issues 4-6.
- I’m trying to tell you that Mother Panic is good again.
Overall: Surprisingly, Mother Panic returns to it’s true form with this issue! I don’t know what the “Pretty Arc” was all about, but the tone, writing, and style completely abandoned what had been established in the first three issues. This issue though… This feels like the real fourth issue, and John Paul Leon’s art is a great counterpart to the script. If Mother Panic continues on this path, I’ll look forward to reading it again!