MOTHERBRIDGE: SEEDS OF CHANGE by George Mann and Aleta Vidal (BOOK REVIEW)
“My dad used to say that the world always finds a way to pull the rug from under your feet, just when you least expect it.”
So here we go, here’s a confession for you: I have never read a graphic novel before!
When Clare Scott, assistant to George Mann, reached out and asked if I’d like an advance copy of Mann and Vidal’s upcoming graphic novel about a “dystopian fantasy exploring motherhood and myth”, I thought it would be an excellent place to start – and I was absolutely right.
Motherbridge: Seeds of Change is set in a future in which, at one time, the World Mother (a power of nature) awoke and joined the world in one peaceful nation. But now she has gone, and borders have been reinstated, and walls have been rebuilt higher than ever. It’s a world in some ways very familiar to our present one, in which the fear of “us and them” seeps through society and governs how we treat each other. Mann has taken that fear on a projective whereby families are separated and anyone “other” is imprisoned and relocated outside society.
“Lashing out in fear and rage. Hurting what they do not understand. Content to believe the fallacy that if they could only destroy that ‘other’, things would go back to the way they were before. Back to some rose-tinted vision of a past that never was. To a lie they’ve told themselves to justify their crimes.”
Hayley is British, living in America with her American husband and family, and we meet her as the prison guards are releasing her from prison and out to the other side of the Wall. She is left to fend for herself in a place overrun by ruins reclaimed by nature, separated from her family. Her one goal is to get back to them, and what follows is her adventure as she befriends other outcasts, avoids cults and mercenaries, and discovers a magical connection to the World Mother.
You’re immediately thrust into the story and Hayley’s trauma, and as such, it’s hard not fall for Hayley from the get-go. Her strength is immediately apparent, she put me in mind a little of Margaret Atwood’s Offred, that quiet determination, unwavering from her path. She’s a mother who is pretty much now done with this shit, and barely even has time for these weird powers she’s suddenly developed.
“‘Another heathen come to whisper words of heresy.’
‘No, just a mother who’s used to dealing with warring infants.'”
There are very strong messages throughout Mann’s narrative of the protective and nurturing capabilities of nature when embraced, of the destructive capabilities of humanity, of the ways in which fear can control and distort us in different ways – not just the military in power, but on the flip side, the cult also. Neither extreme is the way forward. Although it could sometimes feel like the Message overpowered the Story (I certainly wouldn’t describe this as being a subtle read), it was thought-provoking and powerful. Mann’s writing is passionate and doesn’t hold back, there’s no space for subtlety here.
“People put up walls because they’re scared. Terrified of a world they can’t control, where they fail to understand their relevance in a changing landscape, an evolving society. They fear change. They fear difference. But most of all, what they really fear is themselves.”
We need to talk about Aleta Vidal’s artwork, because it is just stunning. I love the way in particular she portrayed the amalgamation of nature and urban landscape, the ruins being reclaimed. Her colour palette for the vines really gave the sense that this is an enchanted plant, that there’s something supernatural about the natural. Her artwork is incredibly rich, and the details add that extra bit of depth to the world. It’s an absolute feast for the eyes. There’s a vulnerability inherent to Mann’s characters that Vidal captures perfectly; this truly such a great partnership.
All in all, I loved my first foray into graphic novels! Motherbridge was relatable, exciting, and a wonderful introduction into a world I sincerely hope Mann and Vidal will take us back to very soon.
Motherbridge: Seeds of Change is being released by Dark Horse on 25th May in comic shops and 7th June in bookstores.
You can find your nearest comic store HERE