Best Shots Review: MOTHER PANIC #1 'Goes For The Throat' (10/10)

"Mother Panic #1" preview
Credit: Tommy Lee Edwards (DC Comics / Young Animal)
Credit: Tommy Lee Edwards (DC Comics / Young Animal)

Mother Panic #1
Written by Jody Houser and Jim Krueger
Art by Tommy Lee Edwards, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, and Trish Mulvihill
Lettering by John Workman and Deron Bennett
Published by DC Comics / Young Animal
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10

DC’s Young Animal debuts its brutal new leading lady in Mother Panic #1. Written by Faith scribe Jody Houser, this first issue tells the story of Violet Paige, a disillusioned heiress who returns to her home in Gotham City to take revenge on those who have wronged her through any means necessary. Though Houser reveals little about Violet’s crusade, this introduction is a fast-paced first installment, bolstered by moody flashbacks and plenty of acidic dialogue.

Credit: Tommy Lee Edwards (DC Comics / Young Animal)

Providing flashy, almost dream-like artwork is Tommy Lee Edwards, who renders Violet’s frantic life in an appropriately frantic style punctuated with a bone-crunching fight scene and a creepy introduction to the series’ antagonist. Also armed with a dense and dark back up story from writer Jim Krueger and the art team of Phil Hester, Ande Parks, and Trish Mulvihill, Mother Panic #1 is the grimmest offering from the new imprint yet, but could also very well be the best of the whole lot.

Violet Paige isn’t a hero and Jody Houser establishes that from the very first page. Landing back in Gotham after a long absence, Violet is there for revenge and revenge only, her doctor’s orders be damned. But while Jody House keeps the sparking incident that inspired her vengeance in the dark, Violet’s sharp tongue and standoffish personality will hook the reader’s attention long before she dons her stark white and intimidating costume.

Credit: Tommy Lee Edwards (DC Comics / Young Animal)

Houser is probably best known for her sunny and optimistic take on the exploits of Valiant's  Faith Herbert, but she adapts very, very well to reveling in the darkness with Violet. Though she throughout presents readers with emotionally affecting flashbacks to Violet’s childhood, introducing readers to her sickness plagued mother and her well-meaning father, it is her focused and rage filled present that truly impresses. Houser instantly puts her into the thick of her own mission, having her attend a Gotham gala in order to get close to a target, extract him, and presumably beat information out of him. But her target is intercepted by men working for the other side and she is forced to reveal her costumed persona and throw down with extreme prejudice. Edward’s prestige picture tone also extends to the introduction of the title’s villain, a woman named Gala. After a gorgeously dense return home for Violet and her quarry, Houser and Edward’s shift to the monochromatic lair of Gala and her bloody “artwork.” Clad in immaculately designed haute couture, she stands amid a black and white space dominated by circles, painting a canvas by flaying a man suspended from the ceiling.

Credit: Tommy Lee Edwards (DC Comics / Young Animal)

If Mother Panic’s first fight is a stylish arthouse picture, Gala’s intro and lair is like a nightmarish version of Andy Warhol’s Factory, furthering the team’s commitment to making each scene feel and read likes something more than a mere comic. Though the rest of the Young Animal line provides trippy visuals and pop art inspirations, Mother Panic comes from a much darker place and it is all the better for it.

While there is no shortage of women heroes, there is a major shortage of woman antiheroes and Mother Panic #1 looks to fill that gap with a slick and well-written debut issue. Jody Houser and Tommy Lee Edwards go for the throat with this first issue and though their overall narrative is still shrouded in darkness, the sharp, unrelenting script along with the heavily inked artwork makes for a compelling debut despite its light plot. If you like your heroes dark, brooding and with no time for anyone’s BS, then Mother Panic #1 is the comic for you.

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