Violet Paige, the often brutal vigilante who has recently been seen prowling the streets of Gotham, kicks off a powerful new storyline in today’s MOTHER PANIC #10 that will cap off her first year. The sole title in DC’s Young Animal that’s set clearly within the DC Universe, Mother Panic has always been unique within Gerard Way’s boundary-pushing imprint, building its complexity within its characters rather than its setting and scenarios. Since its debut, it’s also relied on shorter storylines that bring to light new revelations about Violet’s personality and past, while showing off the work of a number of stylized artists.
Issue #10 marks the return of Shawn Crystal on art, and seems poised to answer many of the questions currently in the air about who Violet Paige is. Is she a hero? A villain out for revenge? Does she even know anymore? To gain a little insight into Violet’s strange, angry world, we spoke with Mother Panic writer and co-creator Jody Houser about where the book has been and where it’s going, and whether more Gotham City heroes may be paying their respects to Mother.
You’ve just finished a great storyline that showed us a slightly more vulnerable side of Violet Paige…
Yes, “Victim Complex.” But I’ve been calling it “the Remains arc” because that’s the name of our killer. I’m not sure it ever comes up in the story, but that’s what we’ve been referring to him as.
In issue #8, Violet started doing some investigating, which is kind of fun because unlike certain other heroes in Gotham, she has no background in detective work or anything like that. However, she figured out that Remains seems to be targeting people who have been victims of some sort of tragedy and either killing them or killing the people around them.
Yeah, he’s a jerk.
Violet’s also dealing with a few problems of her own. What’s going on with Violet physically?
Since she was a teenager in Gather House, Violet has been cybernetically enhanced. One of the very first implants she received—a spinal implant that helps her support the weight of the other additions to her physiology—has started to fail. She has been incapacitated by extreme bouts of pain. Violet’s not physically able to do much of anything at certain points, but it didn’t stop her from tracking down a serial killer. Which is funny because she claims she’s not a hero.
Yes, she says she’s not a hero and she doesn’t always act very heroic, but sometimes she does things you’d associate with being a hero. Do you see Violet as being on a heroic journey?
I definitely do. I mean, it’s still very much a journey of self-discovery for her—she’s figuring out who she is and what she’s going to be.
I think there are two very important things that she’s figured out in the midst of trying to get revenge for the wrongs of her youth. First, she can’t kill people. As much as she would like to, she can’t bring herself to do it. And second, she wants to help kids in trouble. If she sees a kid struggling, she’s going to help them because she remembers being a kid when no one helped her. So that’s sort of a big trigger point for her to act more heroically than she would normally because that’s something she connects to on a very personal, very fundamental level.
Violet’s relationship with Dr. Varma seems to have more layers to it than I ever would have thought. How would you describe Violet’s relationship with Dr. Varma, and Dr. Varma’s relationship with Violet?
Those are actually two very different things! Dr. Varma is Violet’s Alfred in a way. She’s her confidante—the person who helps her when she’s gotten trashed out on the field. Dr. Varma, on the other hand, seems like she’s in love with Violet. I think she realizes that she’s enabling certain behaviors that are very destructive, but she has trouble saying no to Violet.
How strong is this relationship’s foundation? Is it possible that it may be in trouble moving ahead?
We’ll see! I feel like any relationship that starts with a doctor implanting things in your body without your consent is always going to be a little uncomfortable and awkward. I think the fact that they even found a way to come together—and there’s a story there that I hope we get to tell at some point—despite their shared history says a lot about both of them. I think that’s another thing. Violet claims she wants to destroy the people that she sees as having destroyed her. But someone like Dr. Varma, who’s a part of that, Violet’s brought into her circle. So I think she has more of a capacity for forgiveness than she realizes as well.
At Comic-Con, we announced that DC’s Young Animal will be crossing into the DCU. What can you tell us about that and what it means for Mother Panic?
Young Animal is going to have its first big event for the imprint starting in January. There are going to be four big event issues for each of the main titles, including Mother Panic, and yes, there will be a bit of a crossover there. It’s going to be seeded with events in DOOM PATROL.
Does Violet play nice in Gotham? What do you think the other heroes think of her?
Well, that was an interesting touchpoint in issue #9. I think they see her intentions better than she does in a way. Like we discussed, she is doing some good in spite of herself. I think if she was just another crazy person in a costume running around hurting people, she wouldn’t have lasted as long as she has. So I think that does say something about how her actions are actually helping more than hurting.
So we’ve talked about the book’s recent past and it’s future. What can you tell us about where Mother Panic is now? What’s happening in this new storyline?
Shawn Crystal is back on art through issue #12. We’re going to see a figure from Violet’s past show up and maybe the return of a previous villain.
I was going to ask if we’ll be seeing Gala again…
Yeah, we are going to see Gala again. We’ll also be getting a couple more hints about the organization that put Gather House together and ran experiments on kids. Those guys really suck.