When a member of the Frankie’s Facebook group suggested that I review a comic titled M.O.M. Mother of Madness and told me that it had been co-written by Game of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke, I knew that I had to pick it up. Despite the fact that nearly every GOT fan was disappointed with its ending, Clarke’s portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen pretty much instantly ensured that she joined my own personal list of favorite actresses. So, learning that the original Mother of Dragons had helped pen a comic book titled M.O.M. had me intrigued.
Creator, co-writer, and actress Emilia Clarke with images from M.O.M. behind her
As of this writing, the first two issues of what will be a 3-issue run have been released, with the final issue set to hit shelves later this month. Right off the bat, I will say that M.O.M. is a feminist comic. Now if that sentence made you groan, please bear with me, because I feel that knowing that it’s a feminist comic before you read it will perhaps help you to understand it. At least, I feel that it would have helped me.
Set on the east coast in 2049, M.O.M. takes place in a capitalist, patriarchal future where straight white men have an exaggerated amount of power and women are treated as little more than sex objects. Women here are highly encouraged to look and dress a certain way and are expected to not only tolerate, but to enjoy, any unwanted attention men show them. They are told that they are overly emotional and that they should act meek and make themselves smaller and that, perhaps most importantly, they should smile.
Honestly, when I first read through issue one of M.O.M., I couldn’t help but feel as though Clarke and her co-writer Marguerite Bennett (DC Bombshells, Batwoman, Angela: Agent of Asgard, etc.) were laying it on a bit thick. However, once I began to understand our heroine, Maya Kuyper, I started to understand the need for the over-the-top misogyny and hostile sexism that were present in the storyline.
M.O.M. #1 variant cover by Jen Bartel
Adopted as a newborn, Maya was raised an only child by her loving and supportive parents. Her mom was terminally ill (with what, we don’t know, but cancer seems likely) and her father was a scientist determined to find a cure. Both of her parents passed away when she was sixteen, her mom from her illness and her dad shortly thereafter from a broken heart. Bereft, Maya took a handful of unknown pills that she found in her father’s laboratory, only to awaken the next day seemingly unharmed.
Sent to live with a distant aunt that she had never met before, Maya’s powers (ostensibly a product of the pills that she had taken) came on “like a second puberty”. Tied to her emotions, hormones, and her monthly cycle, Maya’s powers were unpredictable. She discovered that the sound of her laugh could shatter objects, she became invisible when frightened, she could heal almost instantly when sad, she became super-strong and super-fast when angry, she gained supersonic hearing when anxious, and she could super-stretch when happy.
Page 1 of M.O.M. #1 with art by Leila Leiz
These powers quickly proved to be inconvenient at best for a teenage girl. Still, the rest of Maya’s backstory becomes a bit predictable as she falls in love with a boy who gets her involved with the wrong sort of people and, eventually, gets her pregnant.
The pregnancy spurs Maya to clean up her life and, through no small amount of struggle, she eventually becomes a chemical engineer at a big company in New York, all while raising her son, Billy, as a single mom and mostly succeeding in hiding her unnatural powers.
Through a series of events and with the help of a small but trusted group of friends, Maya finally learns to control her powers and she becomes a masked vigilante, helping women and the underprivileged. She becomes a true hero to the people, fighting against the extreme misogyny, sexism, and racism prevalent in her world. She does this dressed in a jumpsuit and sneakers with a mask over her head, a look which causes her critics to complain that her costume isn’t sexy enough.
Maya's superheroine costume
Ultimately, what makes Maya a superhero is the fact that she harnesses her emotions to fight back against inequality. The very thing that women in her world (and, sometimes, in our world) are criticized for – being too emotional – is the thing that gives her her strength. So, yes, the feminism and the sexism are perhaps a bit over-the-top and in your face, but it’s only to make the point crystal clear.
Furthermore, this comic really isn’t a female vs. male story. It’s meant as a celebration of what makes women beautiful and magical by viewing perceived weaknesses as strengths instead. Yes, there are men in this comic that are pretty terrible, but there are also men that are kind and honorable, just as there are female characters that are loathsome.
Released from Image comics and featuring an all-female writing and artistic team, M.O.M. is set to take on a system rife with inequality. The second issue has hinted at a sinister underworld that Maya is poised to discover and, we hope, dismantle in issue three when it hits comic book shelves on October 27th.
Angela “LaLa” Rairden is an avid fan of comic books, Star Wars, and most things nerdy. A cosplayer, she loves to attend comic cons dressed as her favorite fictional characters, particularly Harley Quinn. Although her day job is at a grocery store, writing has always been her true calling. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is currently writing her first novel.