Socialite Violet Paige returns to Gotham City followed by a media frenzy. The heiress of a fortune left to her by a father who died a victim to a suspicious accident, Violet is a social media star, gaining fans and critics alike. But she hasn’t just returned to Gotham to care for her sick mother. Like many of Gotham’s populace, Violet hides a secret life and secret abilities. And as she takes to the streets as the city’s newest vigilante, Mother Panic, she will not only embark on a personal quest, but dive into the world’s infamous underworld, and gain the attention of Gotham’s most famous protector.
Mother Panic #2
“A Work in Progress Part 2”
Written by Jody Houser
Art by Tommy Lee Edwards
Mother Panic created by Gerard Way, Jody Houser and Tommy Lee Edwards
Published by DC/Young Animal
After a solid first issue, Mother Panic #2 jumps right into some major revelations for the titular character. In one of the issue’s best sequences, Violet goes to a Gotham City victims charity ball where many of the attendees are garishly dressed as some of Batman’s most famous rogues. Violet is disgusted by the city’s social elite, and is merely there to continue the murder investigation started in issue one. This is strong writing from Jody Houser (who is also killing it on Faith from Valiant, a completely different book) for three reasons. One, it’s a call back to all the great classic Batman stories where Bruce Wayne used his image as cover. Two, it uses Gotham as a character (a theme I can already see as being a big part of Mother Panic). And three, in Violet’s behavior and observation we get a bigger picture of her and who she is. Houser, along with Young Animal curator Gerard Way, has created a dynamic and relevant young comic book character with an attitude. And scenes like this are a perfect showcase.
Another great, quick scene was the cameo appearance by Kate Kane, aka Batwoman. Her reaction when seeing the costumed Mother Panic in action is not only funny but also kind of meta, as it’s probably what many people were thinking when they first laid eyes on the all-white clad character.
But it’s the story’s end that is the best bit. We get a great action scene as Violet, in costume, catches up with her prey and unleashes a frightening amount of fury and intimidation. But it’s the reason that she doesn’t kill her target that is the issue’s narrative highlight, and it’s a detail best left unspoiled, but it adds even more layers of tragedy to her past and deepens the mystery of the death that befell Violet’s father.
Tommy Lee Edwards (who worked with Mark Millar on the great mini-series 1985 for Marvel Comics) is simply destroying on this title. The line work is sketchy yet defined, giving the book a look that separates it from most of the output from DC. The coloring is also refreshingly handmade looking and almost rough. And when juxtaposed with the use of thick, clean white panel borders and creative layouts, it all gives it a nice and even flow.
The coloring stands out as well. It’s appropriately dark for a tale taking place in Gotham City, yet there are splashes of color in action scenes and solid panel backgrounds that make those moments pop and add to the visual rhythm of the book.
There is also a great use of lettering and font choice, as word balloons and sound effects work great, giving the issue various voices and noises; details like that help bring it all to life.
Mother Panic continues to be one of the best-designed characters in recent comics. Additionally, it’s a thrill to see Edwards draw some established Batman family members, even if it’s just in passing (issue #1 had a Batman cameo). Mother Panic clearly takes place in the main DC universe, yet it still stands with its own identity.
If you have been sitting on getting onboard with any of the Young Animal titles, Mother Panic is probably the best title to get started with. It will give you the unique experience that the comic book line provides, yet it’s accessible enough for mainstream fans. This creative team has introduced a new addition to Gotham’s mythology that I believe could be here to stay. I can’t wait to read issue #3.