[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writers: Jody Houser and Jim Krueger
Artists: John Paul Leon and Phil Hester
Well. How to even begin summarizing a book called “Victim Complex”? First, you cover a small child in her parents’ blood. Then, you come to explain that Violet has a heart implant that is failing. Then, you throw in a flashback of Gather house. Then, you throw in one page with a cape that isn’t white and what do you do get? You get Mother F-ing Panic.
Oh, right, “Gotham Radio” continues in the back. The mysterious death of Danny Ruby and the rise of Corey Edgars is told through the eyes of a blind man. For real. For really real.
This book gets better and better the deeper we get into Violet’s story in general and Gather House in particular. Jody Houser has a plan. I am not going to question her plan. I am going to hang on to the back of Violet’s flying cycle and hope I do not fall off to become another dead body on the streets of Gotham. It would be easy to simply tell another Gotham City story. There are millions to tell. It is a sh** hole. I have mentioned before, there is no reason for it to exist. Greg Rucka’s No Man’s Land storyline, which was a Bat-version of Carpenter’s Escape from New York, is pretty much all Gotham City is good for. Throw in the criminals, the freaks and the bats and let them have at it. Violet Paige, for all of her brutality, swearing and general mayhem has the right idea. Take the violence right to the freaks and the bats. Even if it means dressing up like a bat herself. The writing is pitch perfect. The story is heartbreaking and heart racing. It is borderline perfection.
This month artist, John Paul Leon takes the helm. The subtlety is what makes it all work The details in the background that bring Houser’s Gotham to life. The opening scene takes place in a parking garage. The main focus is this family. The daughter, a survivor of the art show, is in therapy. We see body outlines in chalk in a parking spot marked as “patient parking.” Sure, we could pick it up from the dialogue, but we do not have to. In this place of healing, something gets broken. The villain, a monster in a body bag, has no shape and thus, would not seem very scary, but you go put on a black garbage bag and walk up on strangers. Let me know how loud the screams are. Leon terrifies the characters and the readers. I mean seriously. Did you see that cover? Damn.
I have to say too, that the one panel, one part of one panel actually, Houser’s plan and Leon’s map come together perfectly. We see a cape on a roof. Who is it? Bruce? Kate? Stephanie? Who knows? If it were you, would you go look? I would. Violet, she just shouts curses and jumps on her bike. It is brilliant.
Not to beat a dead radio host here, but this is the only weak link in the book. I know it is all going to come together, but I would like it to hurry along. It is not bad, it just is not the main part of the book and that part, is utterly fantastic.
This is issue 7. That means, it would not take much for you to get caught up. I can not recommend to you strongly enough that you should get caught up. If you love the Bat or hate the Bat, this book is for you.