The Red Mother #4
As Daisy works to unravel the secrets behind her fiance's disappearance and her own horrifying visions, she is approached by the mysterious Leland Black, a too-charming entrepreneur with an intriguing proposition. As Daisy struggles to keep both feet in reality, Leland Black might be the tipping point... one way or another.
Now in its fourth issue, the strengths and flaws of The Red Mother’s narrative structure are growing more obvious. By this point, The Red Mother has a feeling of ritual to it, the way waking up in the morning and making coffee does. Jeremy Haun begins each issue on the Red Mother herself, then follows Daisy over the course of one to two days (usually with at least one doctor’s visit), and ends on a striking splash page. This structure does a terrific job of creating a building, atmospheric horror, following Daisy’s day-to-day attempt at recovery as events around her simultaneously get worse. But like waking up and making coffee, the story can sometimes feel like it’s predictable and dragging, like waiting for the coffee to finally be brewed — for that full wake-up of The Red Mother’s final page.
One troubling detail of this issue involves its treatment of Daisy’s therapist. A red light shining from inside her office after Daisy departs associates Dr. Green with the ominous and supernatural events hindering her patient’s recovery. So far, The Red Mother has beautifully focused on the fear and vulnerability of seeking help, rather than rely on the tired trope of the malicious medical professional. Hopefully, Haun sticks with that, rather than, as too many horror writers have done, reinforce the concept that seeking help is actually a mistake equal to the trauma or illness that brought someone to a doctor in the first place.
Artistically, Danny Luckert’s strange “camera” angles in certain panels feel effectively restrictive and disorienting and help communicate to readers a pervasive sense of unease. Yet, simultaneously, those angles call more attention to Luckert’s difficulties with foreshortening and anatomy. His best pages are the first and last, which, though perhaps less complex, are both visually arresting. Colors remain strong throughout, and Luckert’s usage of a limited palette is generally effective. In terms of color, the weakest point is a textural element incorporated on both a stone façade and much smaller wooden box, which may be an attempt to tie both objects together, but feels distracting more than anything.
The cover image, depicting a deserted cityscape, oozes unease while sticking to The Red Mother’s monochromatic obsession. However, for all of its atmosphere, it says markedly little about the plot, perhaps vaguely suggests the issue’s climax.
The Red Mother #4 remains haunting and, at moments, striking, but its predictable narrative structure and artistic shortcomings can get in the way of an otherwise creepy and compelling story.
The Red Mother #4: Daisy’s Daily Grind
Writing - 7.5/107.5/10
Storyline - 7/107/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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