By Kelly Gaines
Violet is a contender- make no mistake about that. She's an heir to the Paige fortune, a rival to Gotham's dark underbelly, and the defending "costume" of Gotham. In this reality, Batman may be gone, but his fight is not forgotten. Whether she likes it or not, Violet Paige/ Mother Panic/ The White Witch is one of the only forces in Gotham actively fighting to heal the city's open wounds. The rescue mission to recover her mother from Arkham was a success that unfortunately cast light directly into Violet's operation. In her eyes, she's saved her mother from pain and exploitation. But to Gala and the rest of Gotham's criminal collective, Violet has stolen a priceless piece in their human gallery: The Oracle of Gotham.
When I first read Mother Panic, I was impressed by the complexity of Violet's situation. She's another rich kid without parents, sure, but her loss is vastly different from that of Bruce Wayne or Dick Greyson. As a child, Violet shot her father in self-defense after discovering an unsettling plot to "lend" her to one of his older friends. As for her mother Rebecca, Violet lost her on an internal level. When we first meet Rebecca Paige, she is the widow of Martin Paige tragically cursed with early-onset dementia. Or at least, that's what Violet believed. Fast forward a few twists and turns, and it becomes clear that Rebecca's condition was no genetic tragedy. Rebecca is a superhuman, and a powerful one at that. She has the ability to see the future- an ability her late husband exploited and aggravated until her mind caved in on itself. Rebecca is still powerful. The Collective's interest in her is proof of that, but her messages are cursed to always be unclear and indirect, often sounding more like the ramblings of a madwoman than the predictions of an oracle. Violet has learned to weather the storms and heed her mother's advice, but Gotham A.D. introduces the threat of an entire criminal enterprise with the same understanding of Rebecca's knowledge. She's valuable, and that makes her a problem.
We've hit the moment in Gotham A.D. when Violet decides it's time to be a celebrity again. The lovers and cameras and benders look exciting, but it's a precise kind of camouflage that Violet's learned to use flawlessly. Just like Bruce Wayne, no one suspects the rich party fiend of being a superhero- or at least, that's the idea. Violet's reemergence on the scene catches Gala's attention. Why? Gala already has Violet, or she has this reality's version of Violet Paige. How can there be two of the same person? It doesn't seem as though Gala's figured it out yet, but she has a hunch it has something to do with Gotham's White Witch, and she is PISSED.
This inside-out version of Gotham has done more than erase Batman. The Bat's infamous rogue's gallery has been turned on its head as well. Selena Kyle and Poison Ivy have taken to the wooded sanctuary of Robinson Park, Gotham's version of Central Park. It's here the Joker sends Violet to seek help in rescuing her mother. Selena and Ivy agree but make it clear that they are still free agents and will not remain consistent allies if it does not serve them. Speaking of which, I can't say enough about how much I love this version of The Joker. He's an embodiment of the Joker's core idea in other Batman titles: without the other, why would Batman or the Joker continue to fight. In a world without Batman, the Joker has confined himself to the persona of homeless bum on the Coney Island boardwalk, and somehow that is even creepier than normal Joker. There's something about an epicenter of evil and chaos choosing to lie dormant that is unsettling. He's everything he ever was, but self-contained- a landmine that hasn't been activated. That doesn't mean Gotham is completely Joker free. Jason Todd, the deranged Robin of the A.D. universe, kidnaps the Joker and beats him with a crowbar (I'm sure you all see the irony there), only to replace him with a younger Joker. Kid Joker, aided by Scarecrow's insanity-inducing fumes, is causing a scene in downtown Gotham. Why would a hero create a Joker? It's hard to say what Jason's internal motives are, but from a reader's perspective, the answer is clear: he's no hero. He's not even an antihero. This Robin is full villain, complete with a brainwashed cult of other Robin wannabes to help spread the chaos.
Mother Panic, along with most of the other Young Animal titles, will be reaching its conclusion in August of this year. I'm heartbroken, but incredibly thankful for the adventure these talented creative teams have taken us on. Mother Panic has made her way into my top five list of superheroes, and Mother Panic Gotham A.D. #4 did not disappoint. There's an artful balance of complex elements and riveting storytelling keeping the pages of Mother Panic A.D alive. If you checked out after Milk Wars, I sincerely believe you made the wrong call. It's worth reading, if not to simply add an exciting new layer to the mythology of Gotham.
Mother Panic: Gotham A.D #4