By Brandy Dykhuizen and Arpad Okay. Our Week In Review sums up our weekly comic book coverage while taking time for a new review or two before it’s all over. Did we miss your favorite books this week? Well. This is where you need to be.
Mother Panic #5
DC’s Young Animal/$3.99
Written by Jody Houser.
Art by Shawn Crystal.
Colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu.
Letters by John Workman and Shawn Crystal.
AOK: The veil around Gather House parts, a history of brutality revealed as its alumni burn it down. The fifth issue of Young Animal’s Mother Panic has character dynamics dancing in those flames, projecting odd silhouettes upon the hearth. Violet Paige contrasted against her allies, more broken students wearing the strangest uniforms. Paige and her colleagues, a private hospital staff made up of lost souls. The tabloids. Her mother. Violet Paige against her past, her struggle with history’s iron grip. A dark menagerie of clues for the tenacious reader to sift through.
From the first, the mystery has been Violet, not Mother Panic. To say she is a re-imagining of Batman is to short-change the book’s depth. Paige is utterly fascinating in her own right. Bruce Wayne is just one perspective through which we can interpret this story. Placing Mother Panic in contemporary Gotham intensifies that comparison, and muddles it. To which I say, good. Twist it. Look at Mother Panic like it’s a fairy tale, too. Its characters do. Play it like Hamlet, Rebecca Paige does. That mad matriarch has me doing homework like I’m reading The Wicked + The Divine. Every piece of the puzzle has value, every point of the compass a valid reference to point us to magnetic North: Violet.
That said, look at Paige as a reflection of Bruce Wayne’s isolation, not just as a socialite for show. Paige is just as driven to construct a family, and to use everyone outside of it as a tool. Like her grey and blue counterpart, the white queen has a goal at odds with her morals: vengeance. And like Bruce, despite her drive, Violet defers to what’s right. Her struggle and complexity, her story, it’s all a refreshingly sophisticated re-imagining of the black knight.
7 out of 10
Loose Ends #3
Written by Jason Latour.
Art by Chris Brunner.
Colors by Rico Renzi.
BD: Sonny and Cheri have found themselves a long way from their locale – a BBQ honky tonk tucked ‘way back beyond Tobacco Road – but it will take more than an Aveda makeover and bright Miami lights to hide their roadhouse roots.
Jason Latour’s “4 Issue Southern Crime Romance” winds through various states of consciousness and the Confederacy, laying the foundation for the long-awaited final issue. Southern colloquialisms and phonetically accented language pepper the boiled-down dialogue, which features more prominently in the flashbacks than the current timeline. (In fact, it’s surprising the characters maintain the capacity to speak at all, through the revolving door of substances they ingest.)
As the story continues to make its way around time (and I-95), Brunner and Renzi give vibrant life to each locale’s distinct mood: city lights glow, and readers can practically feel the dehydration of a hangover in the fierce Florida sun. Flashbacks to deployment in the Middle East create an intriguing cognitive dissonance, with dark pixels laid over honey-hued scenes, bringing to mind watching a storm roll in from behind a screen door. Even our strongest memories are ultimately treated with the filter of our choosing.
Loose Ends takes you right into the moment beside its crime duo, plying the reader with the appropriate uppers and downers to make it through to the next step. Everything feels just a little twitchy, a little out of control and capable of blowing up in your face. I look forward to seeing if these shady characters fizzle and tweak out in the final issue, or if they have enough of a fight left in them to ride off into one more neon sunset.
7 out of 10
From earlier this week —
What books did YOU read this week? We want to know! Tell us about those feelings of yours in the comments section below.