AWA Studios' Upshot imprint has steadily published the most solid lineup of genre comics since it started early last year, but for our money, Bad Mother by crime novelist Christa Faust and veteran artist Mike Deodato Jr. is the publisher's best series to date. And with the 5th and concluding issue, the series ends perfectly.
April Walters is a tired, middle-aged soccer mom who finds her teenage daughter kidnapped by a deadly gang run by her opposite, a svelte, glamourous, ruthless female gang boss. April is not a victim. She has a spine of steel and a brain that knows to look for the answers she needs. She knows no one is going to help her once she discovers the cops are corrupt. She's on her own, and she doesn't stop and whine about it. She just starts doing what needs doing. That's what mothers do. It's a thankless job, but who else will do it? And the job is to get her daughter back safe and sound, which probably means taking out an entire gang of drug dealers and human traffickers. When it comes to filling her knowledge-gap, the internet is her best friend.
Christa Faust is one of the best, most direct, and uncompromising crime novelists out there right now. She writes from an unflinching and merciless perspective with a natural empathy for women who are often overlooked in mainstream genre fiction. Her heroines are women who have been screwed by life but keep on going. The most refreshing thing about Bad Mother is the way April Walters never breaks down and cries in the clichéd way female characters in genre fiction are made to do when things go wrong. April's refusal to be a victim is backed up by her determination to find an answer and then be ahead of the bad guys by at least one step. She doesn't hide. She strides right up to the bad guys and lets them know she's there when the time is right. She's the smartest and most authentically empowered heroine in comics right now, and that alone is worth getting this series for, whether in issues or the upcoming trade collection.