Review: Mother Panic #4

by Tony Farina
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[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]

Writers: Jody Houser and Jim Krueger
Artists: Tommy Lee Edwards and Phil Hester

Violet Paige has a plan. As Violet Paige she does things that keep Mother Panic identity a secret. Interestingly enough, just like Bruce, she uses her money and fame to make everyone think she is a bit of a loose cannon. Of course, both Batman and Mother Panic are just that. They are crazed. The plot of issue four only reminds us of Violet’s horrific past. Things explode both literally and figuratively.

In the “Gotham Radio” back story, we learn very little about what is going on other than there used to be a superhero called Odd Man who turned some baddies into stone and he never got over it. Hmmm. Violet, are you paying attention?

Violet Paige is just the right amount of crazy. She is well aware that what she is doing is totally messed up, but she does it anyway. Her mother on the other hand, well…Check out this exchange:

“Mom, are you awake?
“I don’t know.” Comes a voice from the next room.

Violet walks in and sees her mother digging up a plant. “You are definitely awake.”

“I thought I might be, but you can never be sure.”

In these few passages, Jody Houser tells us everything we need to know about Mrs. Paige. Yes, we have seen the terrible things done to her and we have seen her lifesized Wonderland, but we have yet to really confirm where her head is. She is not well. She needs serious help. Violet, it clearly not capable of giving it, yet she seems to think that no one else is either.

Houser and Edwards give us some pretty detailed flashbacks to Violet’s time at Gather House. Honestly, it makes Ma Gunn’s look like a vacation stay. Edwards’ artwork is terrifying, beautiful, and perfect for a book like this. Young Animal books are Rated M and Edwards takes full advantage of that rating. Panel after panel of nightmares make us understand Violet a bit more with each page we turn.

That “Gotham Radio” story is the weak link here. Clearly it is going somewhere, but with only a few pages in each issue, it feels tedious. I have faith in this team, and I know it will all come to big, ugly, bat-shaped head, but I would like to see a stand alone issue where “Gotham Radio” plays out and then we get back to how it matters to Violet. It is her world, and we are all just living in it.

I really dig this book. Violet is a complex character. DC has proven once again that as a company, they understand how female characters work. They are not just eye candy in tight pants. Bravo!

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