ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘M.O.M.: Mother of Madness,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

M.O.M. Mother of Madness #1 - But Why Tho

M.O.M.: Mother of Madness #1 is published by Image Comics, written by Emilia Clarke, Isobel Richardson, and Marguerite Bennet, with art by Leila Leiz. Meet Maya Kuyper. She is a chemical engineer, a single mom, and also possesses superpowers. But these powers have a unique connection to Maya and how the world around her makes her feel. And while she has tried to live a normal life, it looks like Maya may just be done with that.

While this issue partly serves as an origin story for our protagonist Maya, its primary focus is its commentary on a far more down-to-earth problem than superpowers. M.O.M.: Mother of Madness #1 spends most of its 36 pages delivering a running commentary on the many struggles, obstacles, and sexist aggressions Maya, and by extension women in general, have to deal with daily. Needless to say, the topics of sexism, feminism, and everything else that revolves around these issues are elaborately nuanced, and any comments about them will hit differently for any given reader. On top of that statement, I also want to make clear that, as a man writing this review, I acknowledge my point of view is of the outside looking in. I can only state my impressions of how the book handles its subject matter as someone who hasn’t experienced it. Ok. Phew. With all that out of the way, let’s talk about M.O.M.: Mother of Madness #1.

From the book’s first panels, as Maya introduces herself to the reader, this book delivers its core narrative with even measures of biting wit, and grim looks at reality. In this opening scene, Maya is at a party that is supposed to celebrate and uplift the women at the company she works for. But even as the man at the podium stumbles through a speech laden with uncomfortable jokes that undercut the night’s purpose, we see the same old sexist behaviors litter the crowd of listeners. This focus on not just the calling out of men being shitty to women, but the hard look at how much of the supposed “progress” companies/society claims to make, but in reality are little more than performative BS is the aspect of M.O.M.: Mother of Madness #1’s commentary that was the most striking to me.

The exposing of the empty-handed gestures that feel like little more than the least possible things, intended more to give the appearance of change than to create actual change, was an extra step into the examination of the issues within this book that I hadn’t expected. The presence of this look at how hollow many of the “steps” corporations supposedly take for women forces the reader to see that this book is about today, and the situations that still exist unabated.

Along with the ongoing look at Maya’s struggles with her present-day world, M.O.M.: Mother of Madness #1 also delves into Maya’s past. Her early years with her not-so-normal parents, and how their premature departure from this world led her to the possession of her superpowers. Powers that in many ways feel directly linked to her ongoing struggles with the world. For example, Maya can turn invisible, which reflects how she often feels. Another is a sort of sonic scream that comes out when she laughs too hard. Obviously, a link to when women are told they are being too loud, or their loud laughs are intimidating. Each of Maya’s powers feels is presented as a link to some part of her world.

The art of M.O.M.: Mother of Madness #1 does a great job of balancing the serious nature of the book’s core points, while still delivering Maya’s cheeky “I’m over worrying about what you think of me” personality. The book’s writing tries to deliver its message with a delicate balance of seriousnesses of purpose, mixed with just enough humor to not make the reader completely depressed by reading it. Leiz’s art goes a long way to enabling this book’s success at landing this delicate tonal balance.

So, when all is said and done, I think M.O.M.: Mother of Madness #1 delivers its poignant message about the struggles of women in this world through the cheeky lens of Maya with an impressive amount of skill and self-awareness. It makes strong statements and adds a bit of humor to the story for good measure. From where I’m standing it seems like the book manages to deliver on what it sets out to do.

M.O.M.: Mother of Madness #1 is available July 21st wherever comics are sold.


M.O.M.: Mother of Madness #1
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TL;DR

So, when all is said and done, I think M.O.M.: Mother of Madness #1 delivers its poignant message about the struggles of women in this world through the cheeky lens of Maya with an impressive amount of skill and self-awareness. It makes strong statements and adds a bit of humor to the story for good measure. From where I’m standing it seems like the book manages to deliver on what it sets out to do.