By Jody Houser and Tommy Lee Edwards
Okay, very cool title. This book gets a lot of points right off the bat just for the name. It jumps off the shelf and you just want to say it over and over. On top of that, Mother Panic #1 is on point and then some.
The last title to be released on Gerard Way’s “Young Animal” imprint for DC is finally here and it is fantastic! Having Gerard Way (Umbrella Academy) curate a collection of titles is turning out to be a very good move by DC. Though reminiscent of other Batman stories, like 1987’s Batman: Year One, Mother Panic is no rip-off, and serves as the icing on the cake for Young Animal.
Yes, it’s a story about a rich kid in Gotham City turned vigilante. Yes, it feels and looks a lot other Batman books. But it’s also a unique story that fits perfectly in that universe. Main character Violet Page is a young adult billionaire with a troubled past and a chip on her shoulder. She not only has an edge to her, she lives on the edge too, and even takes a turn in similar shoes to the Gotham Knight himself.
It’s not a remake, retelling, or homage. Instead the book uses familiarity in order to convince us we’re in good hands. The creators understand what it means to make a story like this. And, apparently, they’ve decided to embrace everything that we know and love about Batman, Gotham City, and the never-ending struggle between criminals and hard-nosed heroes.
Jody Houser (Faith) writes a beautifully intricate script with overlapping narration and dialogue that fills us in on the story and Violet Page’s inner workings all at once. Page provides and inner monologue that acts as a commentary to her own words. As a result, Houser creates a character that is in sharp contrast with the playboy lifestyle of Bruce Wayne; opting instead for the more modern version of a moody rich brat too cool for school. As of this first issue the story is set up as the gritty street-level approach that we’re used to, but this time it’s slightly more stylized. There’s a pop element to the imprint that transcends to the comics, and Mother Panic carries that sensation forward. It’s as if it’s not enough for Violet Page to simply put on a costume with gadgets and fight crime, No, she infuses style as well.
That sense of style is due in part to artist Tommy Lee Edwards’ ability to create realistic yet artful sets and scenes. Whether at a high society party, or a back alley, Edwards (Turf) always gives us something to focus on, but surrounded by plenty of other welcomed distractions on the page. His art is as much design as it is illustration. His colors are appropriately moody when they need to be and dynamic at other times. Sometimes his scenes feel like an endless room without walls, floors or ceilings, at times packed with people and furniture, and other times purely abstract. It’s a visual approach to the storytelling that he is very well versed in.
It’s almost to easy to gush over this comic, and it’s more amazing that it works as well as it does despite the seemingly exhausted premise. Want to read a Batman comic without delving head first into the regular titles(s)? This is your chance. Want to try out a new series without straying too far from what you already love about DC comics’ Dark Knight? Go grab Mother Panic #1. The book is good and can only get better. Here’s hoping Mother Panic is around for a long time.