Christa Faust is one of the best crime writers out there. She writes about working class women, sex workers, LGBTQ people, the marginalized women of society rather than the usual cops, detectives or ordinary middle-class men and women who fall into Hitchcockian situations. Her crime novels are tough, ruthless and bracing with a point of view unique to her. She deserves to be better-known, even as she makes headway into comics.
AWA Studios' imprint Upshot should be applauded for publishing Faust's first American monthly crime comic Bad Mother. It's also her first comic with a really good artist – Mike Deodato, Jr's shadowy, semi-photorealistic style is exactly what Faust's story about a mom's mission to rescue her daughter from gangsters needs.
April Walters is not the usual slim, hot, hypersexualized action heroine. She's a tired, middle-aged, suburban mom beaten down by life with a husband who's always out of town, a middle-schooler son she adores and a teenage daughter who's acting out by dating an abusive boyfriend. It doesn't help that said boyfriend is also a drug dealer hooked up with some very, very bad people. April is no pushover. When her daughter Taylor comes home with bruises on her face, April immediately sets out to confront the sleazebag boyfriend. She's a fighter, and that's what she's going to need to be when things hit the fan. What she finds is the boyfriend is in over her head, and her daughter gets snatched by a crime boss. With nobody on her side, April is going to be a bad mother, willing to go to the end of the line to save her kid.
AWA books have a recognizably familiar if solid structure now. The first two issues of the series set up the world and the stakes of the story before the rest of the series plays out where the pieces fall as the main characters race towards their targets. Bad Mother #1 is a solid crime thriller set-up, and the pleasure of a crime story is waiting for the chips to fall and to see how far April will go to get her daughter back. Faust sets up April's position like clockwork, showing how she has no one to turn to, and she's effectively on her own. Her nemesis is a female crime boss who's her opposite: cold, sociopathic, greedy and vicious in contrast to April's flawed humanity. It's a collision that's going to be violent, ruthless and horribly satisfying, because that's how Christa Faust rolls.