This week, “Mother Panic” added itself to the roster of fresh titles from DC’s Young Animals imprint. Acclaimed “Womanthology” contributor and “Faith” scribe Jody Houser teams up with artist Tommy Lee Edwards to forge a new tale in Gotham which centers on young heiress Violet Paige. Together, Houser and Edwards present a strong, edgy book that explores the life of a celebutante with a bad attitude and a temper to match as she seeks to exact vengeance on her privileged peers as Mother Panic, a terrifying new vigilante. An enticing read, “Mother Panic” features a cameo by a familiar character while creating its own dark mythos in a city ruled by people in costume, both good and bad.
Houser quickly gives us a look at the disgruntled Violet, a young woman just out of surgery with a swarm of paparazzi and fans dogging her every step. Who she is remains quite the mystery, but the few flashbacks we are given help flesh out her personality and motivations as the story progresses. Our first look at Violet’s parents paints a bittersweet picture; her mother suffers from an unknown mental illness, making home life hard. Violet’s dad seems to love and care for her, but his indifferent attitude towards his ailing wife makes their relationship strained. Houser’s script moves along steadily, careful to keep readers guessing in the best way even as she sprinkles nuggets of information through character dialogue.
There’s a quick scene where a man named Hemsley — who Violet has her sights on for reasons unknown — and his bodyguard look at a piece of art, and it feels both stiff and out of place. This bodyguard becomes important later when Violet, who is seen tackling henchmen in her glorious white armored suit, continues her search for him, but it stands as the only part in the issue where a reader might find themselves momentarily confused, even though the sequence is quickly explained. Edwards’ stunning panel layouts in the last pages will keep readers’ eyes on Violet’s every move, every punch and every word. John Workman’s lettering keeps the action moving without distracting from the fight, before softening into a tender scene between mother and daughter. It’s a fantastic contrast against the brutality of the final pages.
The issue closes with the first glimpse of Gala, “Mother Panic’s” villain. Tommy Lee Edwards’ art absolutely shines here, framing her in a subdued palette, adding deep gashes of red and vermilion to the pink overtones and blue shadows he uses in much of the book, while Workman cleverly settles the dialogue on a very busy sequence of panels and drives home every word spoken by our antagonist. Gala’s artwork is a dark piece of the puzzle, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens when her path crosses with Violet.
Overall, “Mother Panic” #1 launches an innovative series with an unconventional take on the rich underbelly of Gotham, choosing to focus on a young woman of privilege and dedication as she sets the stage for retribution. It’s a book perfect for readers new to the medium as well as longtime fans, with enough satisfaction for all.