[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Tommy Lee Edwards
Violet Paige lands her private jet in Gotham. She quietly wonders why someone hasn’t burned the city to the ground; then, she opines that maybe she is just the person to do it. Who is Violet Paige? Well, we are still learning that, but it seems that she is a young, spoiled and rich member of the Gotham elite. She is coming home from an apparent stint in rehab. We learn that that may not really be the case. It is entirely possible that she was in rehab or it might be that she, like another one of the young, spoiled rich members of the Gotham elite, she spent some time away training for her new role as a vigilante. The story is cut with flashbacks to Violet’s unconventional childhood which is filled with nightmares.
There is a short back story with a radio commentator. Where is it leading? What is it about? What happened? Whoa! I am going to leave that alone. Just make sure you read it and be prepared.
This is a Young Animal title so that means there is some actual bloody violence and adult language. The positive thing there is that this gives Gotham the real feel that it needs. Houser has one of her characters explain it perfectly. He says,
“Two flavors of costumes in this city. Psychos who hurt and psychos who help.”
That is exactly right. Young Animal means that Houser and Edwards get the chance to show the reader the “real” Gotham. It is a horrible place where people do horrible things. I liken the young Ms. Paige to a re-animated Jason Todd. She wants some vengeance and if she does some good along the way, that is fine with her. If she happens to take out a bunch of horrible monsters along the way, that is fine too.
Tommy Lee Edwards’ Gotham City is dirty and dark. Even the panels that are outside during the day, there is grey overcast skies. Again, it is the Gotham City that we expect to see if we were really there. Paige’s costume as Mother Panic is stark white to contrast that. Not only does it stand out against he bleak Gotham skyline, it is the exact opposite of the traditional Bat-family costumes. She has spikes on her gloves and she uses them freely. She may not be Gotham’s white knight, but she seems to think she is.
Additionally, this team has created a first class baddie. She is a sick and twisted appropriately called Gala. Watching her “work” made me a bit sick to my stomach. Edwards and Houser really want us to root for Violet. By creating such a monster, they make us choose which kind of crazy we are supporting. I am on team Violet all the way.
We are dumped into the middle of a story. Not only is the story not told in any linear fashion we have never heard of any of these characters except for the Big Bat himself who has a cameo.
What is going on? Who is Violet Paige? What happened now? What is up with her mother? Who the hell is Gala? Is she a villain I should know? The problem with a new story in a familiar universe is that we feel like we know what is going on, but in this story, we do not.
It is not a major problem, but it is going to be an issue for some readers.
I like it. I think Mother Panic is a nice addition to the Bat universe. Gotham is a huge place. Horrible things are always happening there and it makes sense that some of those things are a bit too graphic and nasty for regular readers. This title, under this banner, allow readers to see Gotham the way it really is. Violet Paige is an intriguing character and I am excited to see where this is going.