Reviews: cross-dimensional naughtiness in Motherlands

Published On February 2, 2018 | By Joe Gordon | Comics, Reviews

Motherlands #1,

Si Spurrier, Rachael Stott, Felipe Sobreno, Simon Bowland,

DC Comics/Vertigo

(cover artwork by Eric Canete)

We start with a glimpse of our main character, Tabitha as a young girl at school, and clearly not a happy kid, as she is scribbling sketches of someone being shot, stabbed and blown up with her crayon. Called to the headmaster’s office she finds her mother happily swearing like a drunken sailor with Tourette’s at the unfortunate principal, before breaking off her foul-mouthed tirade of anger to say hello to her little daughter, then remind her to smile for the hovering cameras. From her obsession with how she appears on the media to her clothing, this is clearly someone who thinks they are very important and must project the image they want to be seen as (think certain “reality” stars and other celebs, whose popularity constantly bemuses me). Her brother has been picked up from school by her dad for a dental appointment. Except there was no such appointment and her mother is venting her fury in expletive-laden fashion as she is told they have “skipped strings”, leading to some Malcolm Tucker-levels of inventive swearing.

Young Tabitha herself seems less concerned or angry, more disappointed – when asked if she understands what’s happened, she just sadly says yes, her brother “he’s left me behind.” Like I said at the start, this is not a happy kid and clearly not a happy family, and even just a couple of pages in it isn’t hard to see why Tabitha is unhappy and why her brother was pleased to escape their mother’s grasp. We shoot forward some thirty years to a bizarre city that seems to draw on elements of the Obscure Cities, Mega City One and a dash of Allred’s Madman (some very, very cool artwork from Rachel Stott here). An armed group are fleeing in abject fear, being picked off one by one, sometimes in an extreme and bloody manner (armoured hands crushing a man’s head into pulp made even me wince a little, and I grew up watching all of the Video Nasties before they were banned).

It’s Tabitha, grown up, and now a “licensed retriever”, pursuing these fugitives. But this isn’t the normal cop-criminal chase, this is a reality where multiple dimensions exist and have access to one another’s “strings” (as in the string her mother was told her son and his dad has skipped to). And as the final fugitive desperately tries opening portal after portal to shake Tabatha, and she relentlessly (and fairly effortlessly) pursues him, Spurrier and Stott use the excitement of the world-hopping chase sequence to fill us in a bit more to this bizarre reality (or multiple realities), both the general (discovering parallel worlds was exciting but soon turned very sour for most with some pretty heavy effects on those worlds) to the more personal (Tabitha’s quarry recognises her – he was a fan of her mother, the scandlous, sexy, double-entendre-laden Scarlet Sylph from “Trawl Hunters”.

Yes, her foul-mouthed, media-obsessed mother was once a reality show star, part sexy celeb fantasy, part bounty hunter, part superhero (with the ego to match). Imagine Dog the Bounty Hunter crossed with the Kardashians and a touch of superhero styling, and dialogue by Tarantino. Oh, and she was also numero uno wet dream material for young men back in her heyday, including her fugitive, who delights in informing Tabitha that he “still got blister scars on his johnson thanks to that one ep in season three. You know the one?” Yeah, nothing like hearing the mother you already despised since childhood was not only famous and rich but she was fevered fantasy material for frantically masturbating teen boys; the Scarlet Sylph doesn’t just sport the revealing superheroine cliched costume, she’s happy to use her physical charms for her job and to boost her ratings. No, Tabitha is not having a good day, and the fleeing fugitive is going to get hurt for a lot of this, so not the smartest move. Thing is, when hauled in, seems he may have information on a major other cross-dimensional target, one with links to Tabitha’s past and her vile mother…

Oh but this was soooo much fun. I mean sure, foul-mouthed, violence and sex-laden fun, but that’s still fun, right? Hey, don’t look at me like that! We all know it is fun to have a story that lets totally loose sometimes – this may be unsuitable for some due to the heavy profanity, violence and sexual references, but many others will get a kick from them, mostly because they will see that Spurrier and Stott are doing more than throwing titillating material at the reader – I get the strong impression that this is very deliberately over the top, cheerfully satirising some of the stereotypical elements of a number of action and superhero comics and films (not to mention the oft-vulgar reality shows and media-obsessed celebs) by pushing them to the almost silly level (while still rather cheekily playing with those stereotype toys as it clearly satirises the hell out of them). A fast, fun and sexy ride that gleefully sends up many tropes of the SF, action and superhero genres and satirises celeb culture, while also wallowing in them all for the fun of it.

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About The Author

Joe Gordon

Joe Gordon is’s chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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