Overview: Violet and Jane reenter each other’s lives and reminisce about their past lives at Gather House. This opens Violet up to attack from an enemy from her past.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Violet and Jane talk about their lives at Gather House on the roof of Jane’s significant other’s mansion. Jane convinces her to take off her Mother Panic helmet. Violet says that she is going to make those who were responsible for the horrors at Gather House pay for what they did. Jane doesn’t have many memories from the experience and just wants to put it behind her. Violet admits that she was the one who burned down the boarding school, killing so many of the students and teachers there. Violet remembers when she had a brutal facial surgery at Gather House that Jane felt responsible and curled up next to her in the hospital bed. Violet finally leaves her old friend and lover.
Jane goes back to her bedroom and her significant other is waiting for her. He has security cameras all around the mansion and knows that she met someone, he wants to know with whom she met.
Violet is drinking in a bar when Jane shows up and offers her a drink. Jane says she doesn’t want to go back home again. As the two talk Violet starts feeling woozy and faints, the drink was drugged.
Violet wakes up chained to a piece of skeleton art in front of Jane and Gala, the perverted blood artist from the first story arc. Jane’s husband turned Violet over to the fiendish Gala, who has both Violet and him restrained. Gala will now make art out of her two prisoners.
Analysis: Writer Jody Houser brings real danger to Violet. The story, with the traditionally slow Mother Panic burn, is bringing some of the disparate threads introduced in previous issues together. In the first arc Gala escaped justice for what she was doing to the children she captured. Now she is back and as dangerous as ever.
There are a few questions this issue raises. Who is Jane’s husband, why did he turn Violet over to Gala, and why is he now her prisoner? Some of this seems like random evil character behavior which is out of place in this book. Based on the history of this title, I trust Ms. Houser enough to be hopeful these questions will have specific, interesting answers. But for now the questions outnumber the answers.
Artist Shawn Crystal, colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu, and letterer John Workman have created a book with a unique artistic style that suits this book very well. On the one hand the lines are almost child-like: simple and clean in themselves but when all taken together the effect is creepy and menacing. Muted blues and grays are pierced by sharp yellows on the one hand. Vivid red flames have screaming heads and skulls on the other. The most dramatic image is the final full page depiction of Gala preparing to do her dirty work. The result is a comic book that keeps you off balance in both the art as well as the story.
Some of my concerns from the last issue have been satisfied. This story is moving ahead at the pace I’ve come to expect from this book. However, I am getting a little frustrated with Violet’s relationship with people. It seems that people she loves are destined to betray her, and people that love her are betrayed by her. It is a bleak world with few safe places. I am hoping for a few more of the satisfying moments that this title has brought us. Hopefully the third issue in the arc will bring some relief.
Final Thoughts: The rating for this issue is better than last, but this book needs a little texture to make it truly compelling.