Witness how 29 year old, single mother, Maya, turns into the newest superhero to hit the streets. Your Major Spoilers review of Mother of Madness #1 from Image Comics, awaits!
MOTHER OF MADNESS #1 (OF 3)
Writer: Emilia Clarke & Marguerite Bennett
Artist: Leila Leiz
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Haley Rose-Lyon
Editor: Lauren McCubbin
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $5.99
Release Date: July 21st, 2021
Previously in Mother of Madness: The mayhem begins with Maya, under-the-weather scientist by day, over-the-top superhero by night, and badass single mom 24/7. Deadpool action and Fleabag comedy collide when Maya activates her freakish superpowers
THE NOT SO SECRET ORIGINS
Mother of Madness #1 opens with Maya attending a gala to celebrate women in the workplace for her company. Her evening is cut short though when her menstrual blood seeps through her dress and the emotions of the moment begin to set her powers off. We then get a rundown of how she got her powers. Her adoptive parents both died when she was young and in a bout with grief Maya took a bunch of pills she found in their laboratory. The next day at work she navigates her workplace and a run-in with her terrible boss. When she gets home she listens to a police scanner with her friend Benny. There they hear trouble at an address that’s not too far from where Maya’s son is having a playdate. She rushes over there, makes sure her son is safe, then goes to investigate the problem. There she finds her first clues to a larger sex trafficking ring.
NOT ONE FOR SUBTLY
It doesn’t take very long to realize that Mother of Madness #1 is going to be one of those “in your face” types of reading experiences. This is a double edged sword in this case. At times, the fourth wall breaking and creative usages of profanity do echo some of the less insufferable parts of reading Deadpool. Maya has a very strong personality yet doesn’t lose believability. Also, the way that Maya gets her powers is unique in the sense that it comes from a moment of “weakness” and in a way is just a side effect of an action. The downside to this though is that this lack of subtlety in the writing sometimes goes so far that it loses its edge. This book has a lot to say about misogyny, bro culture, toxic masculinity, repressive opinions on sex, male dominated workplaces, the economy, and healthcare. But there’s times when the characters used to show how bad this stuff is, are so over-the-top and blatant with their flaws that they become almost cartoonish, which makes everything feel a bit like a joke, and not in a satirical sense, but as if it’s making a joke out of speaking out against these things. This is also a densely written book. As stated above, this issue casts a wide net in regards to the things it wants to comment on and it uses nearly every single panel in all 50 pages to make its points. The more superhero-y aspects of this issue are nice though. The powers are fun and the caveat that they’re tied to emotions make them intriguing if they themselves aren’t totally original.
It’s only fitting that a comic that is steeped in the idea of madness should have an art style that matches and Mother of Madness #1 has that for sure. The art here has a lot of kinetic energy. Everything feels like it’s in motion all the time. The part that sticks out the most though is how the traditional elements of the comic medium (panel layout and gutters especially) are toyed with and integrated wonderfully and also utilized to help tell the story. There’s no way around it, this is a comic book that has a distinct style that’s unlike anything else.
BOTTOM LINE: A LOUD BOOK THAT COULD USE SOME RESTRAINT
Mother of Madness #1 has a lot it wants to say and it’ll be damned if it’s not going to say it. One part origin story, one part the beginning of a hero’s story, and one part social commentary, it’s that last part where things get shaky. A lack of subtlety and engaging secondary characters make a lot of the messaging fall flat and come off as cartoonish. Visually, the book is a winner and should be seen for no other reason than to see how the medium itself doesn’t have to look like what you’re used to. 3 out of 5 stars.
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Mother of Madness #1
Mother of Madness #1 fits as much as it can in the 50 pages it’s been given. In terms of an origin story and the initial adventures of a hero, it uses those pages well. In terms of a book that’s going to poke fun at a whole slew of topics. It could use more nuance.