Gather 'round for Milk
Written By: Jody Houser
Drawn By: Ty Templeton
Colors By: Kieran Smith
Letters By: John Workman
Cover Price: $4.99
On Sale Date: February 7, 2018
Well, I gotta admit... I was wondering how they were going to make this one work.
What we have here is, at its core, a Mother Panic story... which, is a good thing if you ask me. I was afraid that this would be a Batman story with an appearance by Violet Page. Even looking at our title here... Mother Panic gets top billing! Color me surprised!
Now, that being said... is this worth your time... and your... good God, five dollars?!
Well... you're just going to have to read my wildly disjointed take to find out...
Were you wondering how Mother Panic got swept into Milk Wars? I know I was. Turns out Gather House is back... and the person running the place is a man calling himself Father Bruce. Oh, and he's also dressed as a bat... so, there's that too.
After a quick and dirty primer on who and what Mother Panic is, (which... I gotta say, after reading that JLA/Doom Patrol issue last week is certainly a welcome sight), she heads off into the Gotham night to see how and why her living nightmare has returned.
The how and why can be summed up in a single word... say it with me... milk. She enters Gather to find several children dressed in "sidekick" costumes. They call themselves the Holy Sidekick Choir of Merciful Justice... which might be a bit cute for my liking. Among these children is the girl Mother Panic saved a couple of times during her own series.
The tots being MoPa to Father Bruce for a good "fixing". He is joined at the pulpit by a woman who... oozes milk from her fingertips. It's unsettling, but a great image. Violet eventually manages to pull "Father Bruce" aside to learn how he became the way he is... and we get an odd retelling of the Batman's origin. I won't spoil it here... but I will say it elicited a chuckle.
Batman is eventually brought to his senses... and follows Violet (and that girl she saved) back to the Mother Panic compound. It's there that we get a bit more insight on Mama Page's "powers"... she instantly recognizes Batman as Bruce Wayne.
We wrap up with Mother Panic, Batman... and a stowaway being whisked away to the front lines by Cave Carson's cybernetic eye.
In a clever bit, Violet's cursing is altered to that ol' Q-Bert speak... ya know, "#@&%" and the like. She refers to it as a "censor in her head"... a result of the milk-fever at this new Gather House. This is a nice touch... and, as stated, a clever way to get around her filthy mouth for a book with Batman as part of the title... while still staying true to her edge-lord character (whether I like it or not).
I get this feeling when I read this... and I'll concede that this might just be me... there's this weird sense of entitlement here. Maybe that's not the right word... unearned relevance, perhaps? I'm talking, of course about Violet and Mama Page being "in" on Batman's alter-ego. With the amount of times I've said this on the podcast of late it's sure to come across as lazy, buuuuut, I don't feel like they've "earned" it.
The story also veered a bit too far into the realm of "cute" for my liking. We get this meta-gag about Batman's followers being children he's endangering. I mean, we get that, right? We're supposed to... we're the readers. Violet making reference to it is a whole 'nother matter. This kind of self-awareness isn't unnecessary and only serves to point out how ridiculous comics can be. That's really not a lecture (or cute "nod") I need.
I appreciated the bit with the girl Violet saved wanting to be her sidekick... and actually stowing away into the Milk Wars. With the announcement that Mother Panic's relaunch will take place in the near future... I gotta wonder if perhaps we're going to get a new body in that costume. Pair that with the odd feeling of finality in Violet's chat with her mother... and I'm not liking Vi's odds. Or, maybe I'm just reading too much into it.
Overall, this issue had all the nuts and bolts... we were introduced to Violet and her world in an organic way that didn't feel like an info-dump. What followed was a fairly straightforward story, which moves a few key players into place for the Milk Wars conclusion. This was as welcoming to "new readers" as could be expected... and for that, I can't get all that mad at it.
Bits and Pieces:
Milk Wars rolls on, and so too does the ballad of Violet Page. This issue was a new-reader friendly as it could be given the circumstances, and manages to move the story along nicely. The worst thing about this issue is the five-dollar price tag.