Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Ty Templeton
Colorist: Keiren Smith
Letters: John Workman
Cover: Frank Quietly
Editor: Molly Mahan
Crossover “shepherded” (haha) by Gerard Way and Steve Orlando
Batman created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger
Mother Panic created by Jody Houser, Tommy Lee Edwards and Gerard Way
Warning: This review is full of spoilers. If you haven’t read this issue yet please check out our spoiler-free review!
I’m gonna be honest, I almost don’t want to write a review that breaks down this issue because as I sit here a day after having first read it and I try to recall pieces of it (before going back to write this review) the best parts that stick out aren’t actually scenes in the comic but the vibe you got from it (well ok, the bat on a cross was pretty fucking awesome haha). Mother Panic is usually a very serious book, but if I had to describe to you quickly what I thought of this book I would tell you it was surprisingly funny and equally heartwarming.
Jody Houser did an amazing job managing to get all the parts about Mother Panic that we love into this issue and, in a true show of how versatile she can be as a writer, she changed the script to something a little more light-hearted than we are used to seeing, all while still taking on the big topics that make Mother Panic who she (fucking) is.
This issue starts with a quick retelling of Mother Panic’s history. I like how they say that her Mother “lived far, far away.” It feels like a nod to Star Wars and a great way of showing she’s often in her own reality. We then see some familiar scenes from past Mother Panic issues where she kills her father and is sent by her brother to live at the Gather House where they brainwash, abuse and manipulate her into becoming what they wanted her to be. The sequence ends with her breaking free, but still having the baggage from her past to scar her and then we have moved into present-day Gotham where she is spending some time with her mother, Rebecca who we learn is the one telling the story over tea.
As Violet goes to take a sip of her tea, the faces of the children from the Gather House fire haunt her and beg her to not let them die again. She smashes the teacup leaving us wondering if this was a vision she was able to see because of her mother’s abilities we are still learning about, or if she had a PTSD moment after talking about Gather House. A striking coincidence nonetheless considering her mother goes on to tell her that Gather House is back.
Since Violet knows that her mother has a gift to see and know things she decides to put on her Mother Panic outfit and go investigate to see if the place she burned down and escaped from 10 years ago is in fact, back in action.
Once she arrives at Gather House and finds the freshly manicured lawn and the building looking just like nothing ever happened. She is confused as to how this could happen so fast. She knows the front door isn’t the smartest choice, but she’s eager for answers so that’s exactly the plan she chooses.
For anyone who follows Mother Panic one thing we know about her is her love of swearing. So it’s hilarious to see as she enters Gather House (now the House of Milk and Honey) and is censored every time she swears. Before she can figure it out though, she is surrounded by a group of children that look to be all dressed up like mini Robins. They claim to be the “Holy Sidekick Choir of Merciful Justice” and take Mother Panic as their prisoner and then lead her to Father Bruce who they claim can fix her.
Mother Panic sees a familiar face when they enter the chapel where Father Bruce is giving their daily service, Batman?? It sure looks like Batman, but he tells her that he is Father Bruce and the new House of Milk and Honey was created to redeem lost souls. He also tells her not to be afraid of “Mother Partake” a pure white, Nun figure who is filling cups with milk that is dripping from her hands.
Mother Panic isn’t buying it but allows him to lead her to a room where he shows her a machine that is used to rewrite the pasts of the children and give them a different future. He explains this as children one by one enter the machine and emerge as mini-sidekicks.
Mother Panic still doesn’t buy it and still believes it’s the same old Gather House story, brainwashing kids to build an army that suits their agenda. Father Bruce begs to differ and uses his own personal experience to try to change her mind. We are then taken to a flashback that shows the moment in time where Bruce Wayne was young and witnessed his parents murders. The panels following show him as a sad adult who is then offered the milk from a mysterious priest who has crashed through his window. He drinks the milk and is suddenly happy and finds what he believes to be his true calling to become a priest.
But Mother Panic still isn’t having any of this nonsense. In a final attempt to sway her, Mother Partake takes Mother Panic’s hand and we then flash back to all the same panels we had seen at the very beginning, only this time they are all happy memories. They start to lead her toward the machine but a familiar face stops her- Rosie. She watches as Rosie transforms into a sidekick and she thinks of the two times she saved Rosie and how much she wanted a better life for her. This is the motivation she needs to stick to her resolve and fight back against Mother Partake and Father Bruce (who is chiding her for language haha).
Father Bruce and Mother Panic begin to go blow for blow until Mother Panic snatches one of the guns away from one of the children and aims it. For a moment everyone looks on in shock thinking she may pull the trigger and kill Father Bruce (or for a fan of Mother Panic, wonder if she’ll be able to pull the trigger at all).
But pull the trigger she does, only it’s not Father Bruce who she’s taken aim for, but Mother Partake. She explains the only way she was able to pull the trigger was knowing that Mother Partake wasn’t real.
Painful memories begin to swarm back into Batman’s mind as he awakens back to a reality that has him covered in milk. Mother Panic realizes that Father Bruce was actually Batman all along. And in another shocking twist, she reaches out her hand to his shoulder and asks if he’s ok before they both agree to do their part to clean up the mess.
Batman gets all the kids out of Gather House and Mother Panic does what she set out to do in the beginning, burn the place down…again. As she’s about to take off Batman tells her he’ll get the kids home safely or to a safe place, but that doesn’t work for Rosie.
Rosie tugs on Mother Panic’s cape and begs to stay with her because she feels safest with her. After pleading with Rosie to go with Batman she gives in and brings Rosie home with her claiming it will be for just one night.
In the morning Violet goes to have tea with her mother, who appears to have known that Violet would be late and knew just when to expect her. She tells Violet she’s expected somewhere else, but Violet tells her that the only place she needs to be is right where she is. And in a hilarious panel, we see that they are not alone. Batman has come to talk to Violet about a new development.
He asks if her mother is magic or meta-human and Violet explains they are still trying to figure that out. He then shows her the cybernetic eye and tells her it came from Cave Carson including the same message that the JLA and Doom Patrol received and they need to go assist Cave.
Violet refuses, but Batman gives a convincing argument telling her that she is connected in all of this and the proof is in the fact that her language centers are still being altered. And then in a heartwarming panel, Batman tells her “I saw what you did for those kids today. And it’s not the first time. Whatever you’re trying to do, your efforts have made Gotham a better place. Let’s make sure it stays that way.”
Her mother nudges her to listen to Bruce and go with him, and then in an equally heartwarming moment, her mother hands her a flower in case she doesn’t see her again. Violet says she’ll see her when she gets back and then her mother says, “Of course you’ll see me. But that’s not always the same thing, is it?”
It kinda breaks your heart since we know from what we’ve been told about Mother Panic: Gotham A.D. that her mother won’t be there when she gets back. We’re watching potentially the last exchange Violet may ever have with her mother and the only one who knows the truth isn’t speaking it.
After leaving her mother, and the flower she gave her, behind, she asks Batman how the eye works and without much of any warning, they vworp their way into the cybernetic eye spaceship and just before they can take off they acquire a stowaway as Rosie jumps on board with them.
Looks like we’re gonna have to wait until 2/28 to find out just what’s going down in the conclusion to this milk madness, but one thing seems for sure that we can be excited about, it looks like all the characters from all the series are going to show up for one epic showdown!
As for my personal opinion on this book, I’ve already really given it to you. I laughed as much as I felt warm fuzzy vibes. I love the empowerment in this issue and how it tackles the trauma of one’s past. It makes you ask yourself if you could wipe away all your pain and be happy, would you want to do it? I know for me the answer is no. I wouldn’t be who I am right now if not for my past experiences, and like Mother Panic, there have been some painful experiences to overcome and that’s a long road, but we get up every day and we make it work and we appreciate life a little more because we know it can, and has been, worse.
I loved the moment where Batman praises Mother Panic for what she’s done and lets her know that he sees her doing good work and wants her to keep going on that path. I especially loved that came in an issue such as this one where she saves him (usually it’s the other way around) and also because this issue not only shows how firey Mother Panic is, but also works very hard to show their histories. I’d really love to see Mother Panic and Batman become friends. Hopefully, he won’t be gone forever when Mother Panic returns in March.
I also really loved the return of Rosie because it shows the human gentler side of Violet, even if she still tries to have a hard exterior with her. Violet has so many layers that it’s hard to get caught up in feeling bad for her for the past that she’s had. The more she grows into her character the more heart we see her expose. When we first started the only person she had kindness for was her Mother- that has grown with allowing Otis to live in her house, bringing Dominic back to her home and giving him a job, accepting praise from Batman and being willing to work with him, and then you have Rosie. The more we get to know her it feels like she’s getting to know herself at the same pace as we do and I absolutely love her.
Great job all around another 10/10 if you ask me. 🙂
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