A new gun-wielding threat is on the loose in Gotham and Mother Panic is on the case in Mother Panic #7.
The Story: In an empty Gotham City parking garage a young girl and her parents return to their car. The girl is one of those saved from Hemsley and Gala in the first story arc. Next to their car they find chalk outlines of people like you would see at a crime scene. A figure in a Gotham City Coroner body bag approaches the family and guns down the Mother and Father in front of the girl.
Mother Panic is fighting some crooks in a Gotham City alleyway. Her bio-mechanical implants are failing and giving her pain. Violet needs more surgery to stabilize her system.
Dom shows Violet a news report of the girl’s parents being gunned down. Violet heads out to investigate. En route, Violet remembers back to her time in Gather House. The school showed off her physical strength and her programmed inability to kill.
Mother Panic gets to the girl’s hospital room and asks the child what happened. The girl remembers her as the hero that saved her and hugs Violet, who is taken aback but eventually hugs her back. The girl explains to her savior that a man in a body bag with two guns shot her parents. Also, she tells about the body outlines on the ground.
Leaving the hospital, Violet sees Batman on a nearby rooftop and wonders why she doesn’t just leave the do-good-ery to him. She realizes that doing good things is satisfying to her.
The Breakdown: Writer Jody Houser begins the third story arc in her Mother Panic series. She continues with the slow reveal of Violet’s past. We learn more about what was done to our hero in Gather House and the nature of that foul institution. Violet’s strength and inability to kill were both formed by Mother Patrick and her cronies. A cybernetic system was installed in her body but it needs much maintenance. Luckily Violet has a family fortune to spend.
Violet has been emotionally damaged by her Father and Brother as well as Gather House. So when the young girl hugs her you can feel her stiffen and then relax at the unexpected emotional contact. Violet doesn’t do well with these kids of personal gestures but still needs them deeply.
The art is by John Paul Leon, colors by Dave Stewart, and letters by John Workman. We get a change in art style from the first two arcs, but it is another successful effort. The lines are simple but expressive. Violet is shown in flashbacks and you can see her clearly as a woman that hasn’t yet outgrown her sullen teen years. There are also inset panels that are abstract and express emotion rather than events. The colors are muted with colors like taupe, ocher, washed out salmon, and pale violet.
The panels of Mother Panic being hugged by the young girl are simple and emotionally effective. The art gives this moment plenty of page space to breathe and very successfully expresses the emotional importance of the moment.
My Take: This issue has several moments that impacted me. As I’ve mentioned a few times in the above review, the hug with the girl is a strong emotional moment. Also, in the flashback when Mother Patrick gives Violet a chance to kill her you can feel how much Violet wants to pull the trigger, but is held back. There is also a strong moment when Dr. Varma, Violet’s doctor who is in love with Violet, tries to stop our hero from going out with her failing cybernetic systems. Varma wants to protect her patient and crush, but is powerless to change the mind of the stubborn heiress.
I like this book very much, the first two arcs were terrific and this first issue of the new one is promising. I won’t give a super high rating this time around because I want to see how the story develops, and a villain dressed in a body bag isn’t the most visually interesting.
However, I do recommend this book because of its strong emotional moments and the continuing slow reveal of Violet’s past. Keep in mind, this is a book for Mature Readers, there is some R rated language along with a cover price of $3.99.