MOTHER PANIC/BATMAN SPECIAL #1 by Jody Houser, Ty Templeton, Kieren Smith, and John Workman
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Mother Panic and Batman are in for one wild ride as Milk Wars continues. Even though this issue deals with serious themes like child abuse, religion, and cults, it's both empowering and hysterical. The art is beautiful, but potentially too perfect for Mother Panic fans. Either way, the issue is a triumph and makes us want to see these two work together more often.
90 %
Dark And Delightful

Warning: this post contains spoilers for the MOTHER PANIC/BATMAN SPECIAL #1!

They say milk does the body good, but that clearly isn’t the case for Batman. Luckily for him, Mother Panic was there to save the day in the MOTHER PANIC/BATMAN SPECIAL #1, which is the second issue in the Milk Wars event. The book’s premise is pretty wild, but that’s kind of the point of Milk Wars. I, for one, am absolutely loving it.

Here We Go Again

We begin with Violet Page’s mom having a vision about Gather House — a really awful, abusive boarding home that Violet attended and then burned down — being up and running again. Violet puts on her Mother Panic gear and immediately heads out to put an end to all that nonsense. She’s done this before and she’ll do it again.

MOTHER PANIC/BATMAN SPECIAL #1
MOTHER PANIC/BATMAN SPECIAL #1 page 6. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Once she gets there, she finds out that this weird priest dressed as Batman is preaching about milk, being a hero, and all sorts of nonsense. There’s a bunch of kids dressed up as Robin-like sidekicks, including one little girl named Rosie, who Violet has saved twice before.

After shattering a glass nun, who was just creepy, the milk flows out of Batman (because yes, it was actually him this whole time) and he’s immediately ready to go. As Batman does. While he helps the children, she burns the building down. As Mother Panic does.

The Milk Wars Begin In JLA/DOOM PATROL SPECIAL #1

Rosie says she doesn’t want to be with anyone else but Violet because she feels safe with her. Despite her initial protests, Violet ends up taking the young girl in. Will Rosie be her Robin? Probably not, because nothing that wholesome ever happens to her, but we can dream.

MOTHER PANIC/BATMAN SPECIAL #1
MOTHER PANIC/BATMAN SPECIAL #1 page 12. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Batman then comes to visit Violet and her mom. In a priceless moment, Mrs. Page recognizes Batman as Bruce Wayne and it’s just absolutely delightful. After getting over that initial shock, Batman tells Violet about Cave Carson’s eye and shows her his distress message. They, along with Rosie, jump in to lend a hand.

Delightfulness in the Dark

Mother Panic and Batman are both inherently gloomy characters, so you’d expect their special to be the same. It’s anything but that. MOTHER PANIC/BATMAN SPECIAL #1 brings some of the funniest moments either character has ever seen to the forefront, in spite of some rather serious material. I mean, we’re dealing with religion, child abuse, and cults here. That’s not cheery stuff. Yet these two characters play off each other so well it’s insane. From the aforementioned reveal of Bruce Wayne as Batman, to Violet cursing like a sailor and “Father Bruce” reprimanding her, the book has some serious comedy chops.

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Yet it’s not only the jokes and the lines like, “Can’t wait until words work again,” that writer Jody Houser delights us with in this issue. It’s also the raw, empowering human emotion Violet expresses. When faced with the opportunity to erase her trauma, she declines, saying, “Maybe I am #@&% up. Maybe my life is a mess. But I survived my past. No one takes that away from me. And I’m a hell of a lot stronger than the scar tissue they left me with.” That moment is perhaps the highlight of the book, and it’s one Houser handles with finesse.

A Different Look For MOTHER PANIC/BATMAN SPECIAL #1

The art of Ty Templeton, Kieren Smith, and John Workman in MOTHER PANIC/BATMAN SPECIAL #1 is another triumph. The sheer design of Batman as a milk priest is impressive enough, but all the different takes on Robin truly took it up a notch. Their work here should truly be celebrated.

MOTHER PANIC/BATMAN SPECIAL #1
MOTHER PANIC/BATMAN SPECIAL #1 page 13. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

At the same time, fans of MOTHER PANIC will be a tad thrown by this more polished look. MOTHER PANIC is usually gritty as all hell, and they may see this version as too neat and clean. Nevertheless, Violet still looks badass and that’s the most important thing.

MOTHER PANIC/BATMAN SPECIAL #1 is a great lead-in to what’s coming up in Milk Wars, and it’s hopefully a sign of more collaboration to come between these two Gotham vigilantes. Even though we’re excited about MOTHER PANIC, GOTHAM A.D. and it seems like that’ll be Bat-free, we’re hoping this isn’t the end for this new dynamic duo.

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