Writer Si Spurrier has built a career on off-kilter, high-concept science fiction stories, and for his latest Vertigo title, Motherlands, he’s put a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship at the core of the plot. Tab is a bounty hunter following in the professional footsteps of her elderly mother, Selena, a former celebrity who is starved for the glory of her younger years, and after years of estrangement, they’re working together to track down Tab’s brother, who abandoned the family to pursue a life of multidimensional crime. Tab and Selena are hot on Bubba’s trail, but the more time they spend together, the more Tab remembers about how awful her mother treated her in the past. She wants Selena to suffer, which is why she immediately shot Bubba’s psychic decoy in the head at the end of last issue, letting her mother think that her baby boy was just killed by his sister with no remorse.
This exclusive preview of this week’s Motherlands #4 highlights that long-festering resentment as it shows Tab’s delight and Selena’s despair after the shooting, and then jumps back to a particularly horrible moment in the pair’s past. Artist Rachael Stott’s clean, expressive artwork reinforces the emotional clash between these two women, and when the scale of the story becomes more intimate, the compositions and layouts become simpler to put the focus on subtle shifts in facial expressions and body language. Colorist Felipe Sobreiro uses a pink and red palette for a flashback that is anything but rosy, and those colors become associated with anger and hatred rather than optimism and love. Stott and Sobreiro have a visual imagination that matches the ambition of Spurrier’s story, but they’re also fully equipped to navigate the thorny emotional territory between the main characters.