Vigilantes take to the streets and fight wrongdoers for different reasons: a desire to make the world a more positive place, a need to help those less privileged, a way to work through guilt. DC's Young Animal imprint brings a new vigilante to the streets of Gotham City, and though why she's donning a costume isn't clear just yet, Mother Panic means business.
MOTHER PANIC #1 by writer Jody Houser and artist Tommy Lee Edwards introduces celebutant Violet Paige. (For anyone else who may not be acquainted with the word, “celebutant” is a combo of celebrity and debutante.) Violet is wealthy, part of high class society, and accustomed to being in the spotlight. Lest you think she's another Bruce Wayne, she doesn't seem to follow the same guidelines as him—or, for that matter, any other members of the Batman family. Violet's Mother Panic costume may have pointy ears, but the similarities end there. The costume design is a smart move on her part because she can leverage any of the might and fear criminals associate with Batman to her advantage.
Her preferences when it comes to her vigilante outfit are one detail we learn about Violet in the first issue. We get a glimpse of a challenging childhood and a turbulent adulthood. Violet's mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease when Violet was young. In the present, Violet's recovering from a major surgery of some kind and is asked about rehab rumors. She shoves all of this aside and goes to a fancy party. Not because she wants to cut the proverbial rug, but for Mother Panic purposes. She might have rage issues, she might be enamored with violence—we don't know yet.
What I do know is this title is different in both tone and appearance from the others in DC's Young Animal imprint. The gritty, real flavor Edwards brings to the page screams Gotham. The story is less weird in that it's not as trippy and out there as DOOM PATROL, SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL, or CAVE CARSON but it's just oddball enough that Mother Panic falls in line with all the misfits we've met so far. She's going against who we all think she is. She doesn't fit into the typical celebutant box, and she doesn't fit in the Batman box. Her case is custom order all the way around, and we're only scratching the surface.
I see the continuing thread through these titles being people who walk to their own beats. They don't conform. They embody the phrase, "You do you." I get a sense Mother Panic's intentions are ultimately for the better, but maybe more self-serving than greater good-serving, if you know what I mean.
The world that Mother Panic pulls us into is all kinds of bizarre. The artist character—Gala—particularly stands out. Gotham has villains. They're like an impossible to eradicate plague and often seem more unhinged than any other city's rogues. This addition looks like she'll fit in nicely with the rest of them. Instead of red paint, she uses freshly acquired blood to make her masterpieces. The worst part? The blood is likely the least offensive of her supplies.
The first issues of DC's Young Animal imprint's four titles are now all available, but we're not done. Not even close. Come back to visit as we follow the continuing series and learn what's next for Casey Brinke, Shade the Changing Girl, Cave Carson, Mother Panic, and the rest of their cohorts. And don't forget to stop by the comments and let us know what you think Gotham City's premiere celebutant.
You can meet Jody Houser, Tommy Lee Edwards and other Young Animal creators this weekend at North Carolina Comicon, but if you can’t go, you can still take home a great Young Animal prize pack in our new sweepstakes.