We know what Liam Neeson is capable of if you mess with his teenage daughter, but what about a middle-aged suburbanite mom whose dreary life is circling the drain? Better yet, what if her daughter gets to have a say in her own role as damsel in distress?
Bad Mother #1
Tim Bradstreet (variant cover artist), Mike Deodato Jr. (artist), Christa Faust (writer), Lee Loughbridge (colourist), Dezi Sienty (letterer)
August 5, 2020
Bad Mother #1 immediately sells itself short with the “Baking Bad” tagline. Axel Alonso, Marvel’s former editor-in-chief, now co-founder of AWA Studios, likes to describe the main character as a cross between “Frank Castle [and] a soccer mom, with a heavy dose of Walter White.” But April Walters is so much more than that, and I’m happy that Christa Faust was added to the idea mix to help flesh the character out beyond this rather simplistic elevator pitch. Castle and White each have their own trauma and reasons to do what they do. Let’s let April tell her own story, without tying it to these men.
A big surprise for me is the art. I have clearly not been keeping up with Mike Deodato Jr.’s work, because last time I saw his portfolio, it was full of babes and Image bad girls with bulbous breasts and tiny waistlines, and bulked up dudes in equally painted on attire. Bad Mother is a far cry from this, and I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to revisit his work and see how much his style has evolved and matured. In the cover image above, we can see that April is not that typical babe material of yore, but she’s no less sexy — or deadly — in how Deodato Jr. depicts her. However, this is a cover that is still working to sell you that Breaking Bad pitch. In contrast, opening the issue we see the the depth of Deodato’s lines with an opening scene of April in a clothing store fitting room, undergoing the kind of torment too many of us subject ourselves to. April despondently leaves the store with no purchases as the clerk calls out, offering to get her a larger size. Nothing fits anymore, from the hugs she wants to give to her young son, or the conversations she wants to have with a distant husband who, it’s implied, is having an affair.
We’ve seen the picture of this down and depressed housewife before, but the creative team does an excellent job of making sure you feel her apathy and loneliness by drawing on the very real experiences of the same that many of us have suffered as we grow older and discover our lives aren’t exactly where we wanted to be.
April’s going-through-the-motions routine is momentarily interrupted by excitement when she is present for a grocery store robbery that ends in the police chief unceremoniously shooting one of the armed robbers in the head. April is understandably shaken up about this, but, with no one to talk to, her life immediately falls back into that sinking gray. Until her daughter Taylor storms home past curfew in a fit of teen rage and lack of communication, her face covered in bruises and cuts. The images and April’s reactions trigger and mirror my mama bear instincts as April tries to get through to her daughter to find out what happened, but without success. April then takes it upon herself to deal with Taylor’s boyfriend, Chase, but when she gets to Chase’s house, she discovers disturbing connections to the earlier robbery. When she returns home, Taylor is missing.
As we start to see the threads of a mystery far bigger than a robbery gone wrong and domestic abuse, it’s clear that April is in way over her head. But as a woman whose baby has disappeared, and with the police doing nothing to support her, she doesn’t question what she must do next, and I am rolling up my sleeves and ready to fight right alongside this bad mother.