Overview: Violet continues her quest for revenge against those that were behind the horrors at Gather House. She uncovers someone that she believed was long dead in Mother Panic #10.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Violet is recovering from her implant operation. She is lifting weights and feels stronger than ever. Dr. Varma checks her surgical dressings and Violet asks if she is well enough to resume her Mother Panic activities. Varma knows she can’t stop her, and is upset that the woman she loves seems not to care about her own safety.
Violet’s Mother feeds Otis’ rats and continues to speak what sounds like crazy talk. However, it seems as if she has secret knowledge of things she shouldn’t which tends to freak people out.
Violet goes to a fancy party in a mansion with a date. Violet has an ulterior motive for attending the soiree and ditches her date to find out who is behind financing Gather House. She sees a woman that she recognizes from her old school but thought was killed in the fire that Violet set. She remembers that they used to be very close. Violet approaches the woman but she doesn’t admit to knowing her. The woman lives in the mansion with her very wealthy and fit husband.
Violet starts drinking heavily and she and her date leave the party separately. This gives Violet a chance to get in her Mother Panic suit and infiltrate the mansion. She finds her way into the woman’s bedroom and confronts her. She asks the woman how she survived and the woman replies that she didn’t survive. Gather House turned her into a monster and made her betray her friend, Violet. Then she asks Mother Panic if she is Violet. This stuns our hero into silence. The woman tearfully apologizes to Violet and asks for her forgiveness.
Analysis: Writer Jody Houser has, in the first nine issues, given us the very slow burn story behind Violet and Mother Panic. The pacing has been careful and deliberate. Now that we have a sense of what is driving Violet the pace continues and starts to feel slow and ponderous. While we know that Violet is looking for those that are behind the torture at Gather House we aren’t given any hints as to why she is at this specific party, with these people, looking for clues. Her date for the night may be a throwaway character. Her relationship with the woman that she thought was dead seems close but not well drawn. The tension with Varma also seems to be outwearing its welcome. All in all, the overarching story of Violet Paige seems to be stuck in the same gear as it has been since the beginning and for the first time it feels like it has no where to go.
We have been getting hints at some special insight that Violet’s Mother has, but that nugget hasn’t paid off yet. The Ratcatcher and his minions could be an excellent detective tool for Violet, but so far it has been a dead end.
The art is by Shawn Crystal, the colors by Jean-Francios Beaulieu and the letters are by John Workman and Shawn Crystal. Crystal has a wonderful way with the emotionally representative pages. Seemingly innocent panels take on menace. Flashbacks are covered in terrifying skulls even and demons are everywhere even though the central characters look unconcerned and oblivious to the danger around them. Crystal’s basic lines are simple though he does give his characters unwieldy looking hands full of knobby knuckles and oversized fingers. The main color palette is red, yellow and black. However, there are also violets and earth tones mixed in. Then suddenly vibrant greens take over a few pages. The colors are very attractive and contribute to the overall moodiness of this book.
Final Thoughts: I have been a big fan of this book up to this point. The story arcs haven’t been completely successful, but this one is the first issue that I feel myself getting impatient with the plotting. Violet’s quest for vengeance doesn’t seem to have a goal. It was an effective way to expose Violet’s character, but now that we know something about her it seems like we are going to get just another ghost from her past. I think we need a change of pace.