Mother Panic Vol. 1: A Work in Progress
Written by: Jody Houser, Jim Krueger
Art by: Shawn Crystal, Tommy Lee Edwards, Phil Hester
Colours by: Tommy Lee Edwards
Published by: Young Animal
Review by Stephanie Cooke
Mother Panic was one of the books that I was most excited about for Young Animal and it is one of my biggest disappointments. I wish that I could say that I loved this book which feels like it could be on the same level with how good Batwoman is but it fell seriously short.
I honestly don’t even know how to really sum up the book here because it was so convoluted. The official synopsis for the story is this: Meet Violet Paige, a rich young celebutante with a bad attitude and a worse reputation. No one would ever suspect that this tabloid-fodder wild child has a secret hidden beneath her spoiled heiress exterior—a secret that has driven her to become the terrifying force of vengeance against her privileged peers known as Mother Panic!
Even reading this synopsis to me is a bit like “Oh so THAT’S what they were going for…” because reading the book, what the story is isn’t really clear. I had to go back through several pages over and over again to try to make sense of what was happening in the context of the story.
The premise for Mother Panic had SO much potential… again, like an alternate version of Batwoman if Batwoman became a villain instead of a hero vigilante.
The writer (Houser) and the artist (Edwards) just never feel synced up within the book. Tommy Lee Edwards always feels like he’s solely following the directions given to him by Jody Houser and not elaborating or adding anything into the story to help it make sense. There is no passion for the book within the pages. The writing doesn’t help tell you what the art on the page should be conveying and there are so many panels that don’t work towards telling the overall story. I couldn’t help but notice several panels that seemed to more or less be artsy flourishes when what I really wanted were panels to help me understand what was going on.
I just felt frustrated trying to read this book. I continually felt like I was missing something and I just wasn’t getting the book. For a book that has no real previous continuity, this is a big issue for me. With Batwoman, I was so completely drawn into the story and the character and I could forgive a lot (even though there’s nothing to forgive with books like Elegy etc.) but with Mother Panic, I’m not invested in the characters and I did not care to find out more.
Pass. Maybe in future volumes this book will pick up steam and figure itself out but right now isn’t that time. I did not love this book and honestly found it to be a complete slog to try to get through.
I want to support Young Animal and the books they’re putting out but I’m not even mildly curious to check out what follows when there are books like Shade the Changing Girl, Doom Patrol, and Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye. Meh.