I don’t know what magic they have in the water over at AWA/Upshot Towers, but they genuinely can seem to do no wrong with their comics. Each one I’ve read so far has seen a creative team firing on all cylinders, bringing fresh tales to a world that can often feel like it’s full of derivative pap; if not derivative of other comic book stories (if you think that shared universes are a problem in cinema now, you should check out how much that concept taints comic books), then of movies or books that will often have been a major influence on the creators.
AWA/Upshot seem to be going the extra mile in ensuring that their series feel unique; they don’t always feel like typical comic book stories, but that’s definitely not a complaint. Bad Mother, written by Christa Faust and with art from the ever impressive Mike Deodato Jr, is no exception. It’s the story of April Walters, a middle-aged mother in suburban America; her mundane, ‘normal’ existence shattered first by her involvement as a bystander in a grocery store heist, then by the disappearance of her teenage daughter. With the police unable – or, perhaps more accurately, unwilling – to help, April takes matters into her own hands, with explosive results.
It’s a slick thriller, grounded in reality – which makes it all the more harrowing as the story develops – and it’s peppered with clever details, as well as masterful panel layouts and clever visual flourishes from Deodato Jr. One particular sequence really stood out to me: April piecing together clues by hunting through her daughter’s social media pages, with the reader’s eye piecing together bits and pieces of information just as the story’s protagonist is.
There’s several brutal fight scenes that are well rendered and clearly told – not to mention incredibly suspenseful and fairly graphic. Writer Faust throws in some great twists, with some very satisfying sequences of April piecing together her plan to get her daughter back – and the whole story builds to a nail-biting climax.
It’s a superb, mature thriller – and once more proves that, though AWA/Upshot may be a new kid on the comic book scene, they definitely have an eye for great talent and excellent stories.
Many thanks to AWA for providing me with a copy of the Bad Mother trade paperback for review purposes.
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