MOTHER PANIC: GOTHAM A.D. #3 by Jody Houser, Ibrahim Moustafa, Jordan Boyd, and John Workman
This issue of MOTHER PANIC: GOTHAM A.D. brings even more of the classic Gotham characters into the fold, and it's extremely exciting. Violet goes a little further down the rabbit hole into Arkham Institute, and has a lot to face there. The plot is thrilling, the characters are vivid, and the art is extremely impressive. This is a very solid third issue, and it doesn't look like this team is letting up at all.
97 %
So, So Dark

MOTHER PANIC has always shown a darker side of Gotham, but MOTHER PANIC: GOTHAM A.D. #3 shows the darker side of a darker Gotham in a darker world!

Violet Paige tries to locate her mother in Arkham Institute (formerly Asylum) without certainty that this version of her mom is the one she knows and loves. To make matters worse, this Arkham is run by Gala, the same person who was in charge of the Gather House where Violet was tortured for years. Did I mention that this story is dark? From the looks of it, it’s about to get a whole lot darker.

Warning, potential spoilers are below!

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Violet successfully breaks into Arkham with the help of a young, Catwoman lookalike called Cat Kid. While traversing a cellblock in the “Institute,” she stumbles upon Harley Quinn. Gala mutilated her face because she was opposed to the brutal treatment of the patients. Violet lets her out of her cell and points her towards an exit. In turn, Harley gives her some intel.

MOTHER PANIC: GOTHAM A.D. #3 page 5. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Violet is able to get to her mother and break her out, but Gala and her team are ahead of them. A brawl ensues, and Violet and her mother only escape with the help of Fennec Fox — the young girl whom Violet has saved many times and is now eager to be her sidekick. That seems to be working out just fine for them.

As they leave, Violet asks about her version of her mom, knowing that this is the darker world’s variant and not her own. Yet this mother, whom Gala has dubbed “the Oracle,” says that there are too many worlds colliding for her to see that properly. Elsewhere, a group of copycats beats and seemingly kills the Joker to send a message to Gotham. Back in Arkham, Violet’s brother is freaking out about their mom. Gala suggests he visit his sister to make him feel better. We then find out where this world’s version of Violet is — in a laboratory tank in Arkham Institute!

All the Twists

There’s a lot to love about MOTHER PANIC: GOTHAM A.D. #3. With almost every turn of the page, there’s a new surprise for the readers. We’re seeing more and more of Gotham’s famous characters interact with Violet, which is a trip and a half.

MOTHER PANIC: GOTHAM A.D. #3 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

One of the best moments was Violet and Harley’s meeting. Writer Jody Houser very clearly has a handle on these characters. From the first sentence Harley utters — in which she calls Violet “pointy ghost lady” — we can tell it’s her even though we can’t see her. Violet, whether she knows who she’s talking to or not, seems to treat Harley with respect and empathy. It was a heartwarming interaction for sure.

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In general, the character exploration here is wonderful. Houser has figured out exactly what this version of Gotham would do to characters we’ve been reading about for years. The subtle and yet very meaningful changes make these people instantly recognizable, but also new and different. It’s no easy feat, and Houser pulls it off with flying colors.

Speaking of Colors …

The art in MOTHER PANIC: GOTHAM A.D. #3 is, as usual, a feast for the eyes. With pencils and inks by Ibrahim Moustafa, colors by Jordan Boyd, and letters by John Workman, the visuals create a reading experience truly unlike any other.

One notable image is Harley’s horribly mutilated face. Even though she has wounds surrounding her eyes, and they’re pretty horrid, your attention is drawn directly to her eyes themselves. She looks both terrified and traumatized, and she also seems to be pleading for help. All of this is in her expression at once, and it’s truly stunning.

MOTHER PANIC: GOTHAM A.D. #3 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Another great moment is Fennic Fox crashing through the glass ceiling to save the day. The varied expressions on her, Gala’s, and Mom Paige’s faces are pretty masterful. You could explore this page for quite a while, admiring the effective subtleties. Boyd’s colors create a tone that’s gritty, rooted, and somehow surreal at the same time. This is like real life, but it isn’t quite that; it’s sort of in the middle somewhere. That makes it incredibly unique.

Workman’s lettering is also solid. It’s unobtrusive and does its job, acting as a guide for the reader’s eye. His way of lettering Violet’s dialogue with square bubbles bordered in red is becoming a signature of the book.

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Not Exactly A Good Time, But a Great Book

As previously mentioned, this isn’t a lighthearted book. There are funny and endearing moments throughout, but MOTHER PANIC: GOTHAM A.D. #3 is overall a serious tale. It’s about trauma and loss and overcoming weaknesses. It’s a necessary book and an important one. MOTHER PANIC: GOTHAM A.D. is meaningful, and in the midst of all the darkness, it’s somehow hopeful. Because if Violet and her family can get out of this, maybe we can get over our own personal hurdles, too.

There’s a lot to look forward to in the last three issues of MOTHER PANIC: GOTHAM A.D., and I cannot wait to see what’s next!

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