By Jody Houser, Ibrahim Moustafa, Jordan Boyd
Mother Panic: Gotham City A.D. is a new series from DC’s mature adult line, Young Animal. It follows Violet Paige as the vigilante, Mother Panic, who runs around Gotham trying to exact revenge on the people called The Collective who messed up her childhood. This new series is set in an altered timeline, one where Batman has abandoned Gotham and The Collective runs the show. This dystopian setting with complex characters is brought to life by writer by the creative team and make this premiere issue stand out from other releases from the Young Animal line. It gives itself some room to create a new identity for a character set within a universe with such iconic ones we usually associate in a city like Gotham.
Writer Jody Houser (writer of Valiant’s Faith) has really set herself apart with her deft writing and complex characters in Mother Panic: Gotham City A.D. Violet Paige is a complex superhero who does a lot of things you would associate with super, but not necessarily hero. She is searching through the remains of Gotham as she knew it to find her mom, hoping she is still around in this timeline. Houser takes the time to showcase how unlike Batman this Mother Panic is; in fact his name is never mentioned in the book. Readers will certainly gravitate to this book with the association to the Batman universe, but Houser has the capabilities to retain those readers with her engaging story. Mother Panic is not the strategic, collected hero Gotham is used to. She shoots from her hip and figures things out as she goes. Her actions are usually self-serving, but she does always strive to do what is right. Her relationships with those around her, Otis and her kinda-protege Rosie, have a survivalist feel to them, as though were it not for the completely messed up situation of Gotham, she would be riding solo.
The art in Mother Panic: Gotham City A.D. certainly sets this book apart. As gritty as the story is, the art absolutely matches the narrative, creating a true dystopian Gotham landscape across every page. Art is credited with inks and pencils from Moustafa and colors from Boyd. Every page creates a new feel with deep colors and intense shadows emphasized with panels of close ups of every character. This series has the capability to take the violence to a new level compared to other titles in a meaningful way.
This book has so much going for it that the only thing holding it back is the same thing that gets your attention, the link of Mother Panic to Gotham and Batman. Maybe this issue was a one-off, it is the premiere issue, but the cover has The Joker on it and the book concludes with Paige meeting with this universe’s Joker and asking him for some key information. Okay, so yeah, that might get a few readers interested, but the payoff in the book is lacking and it really holds this book back from introducing you to a new world within Gotham occupied by Paige. Houser has the capabilities to do this, create this gritty, ultra-violent, version of Gotham not everyone sees with other people outside of the usual suspects.
Despite some of the setbacks, this book is a success for showcasing some great talent from Houser and art from Moustafa and Boyd. There are so many possibilities that exist within this universe that it is exciting to think of what this series can deliver. These characters are complex and we can see new dynamic be introduced to a mature audience that might limit creators within the normal DC titles. Do not be pulled in by gimmick and buy this book to just see the Joker, get this book expecting to read a new type of Gotham hero. This book will certainly keep you engaged with the gritty action and gorgeous pages.