Punk Mambo is on the hunt for Uncle Gunnysack, the evil entity who stole and enslaved her pet loa spirit. It gets hilariously messy.
I reviewed an advance copy of Punk Mambo‘s first issue way back in February, so I’ve had quite a wait for this follow-up. Thankfully, it did not disappoint in the slightest! Valiant’s voodoo priestess extraordinaire continues to take readers for a wild ride full of magic, violence, and most importantly, plenty of sass and sarcasm.
This issue introduces readers to the wider world of voodoo deities, who are fearing the shift in the balance of power in the wake of Uncle Gunnysack’s attacks. These voodoo gods are all rendered beautifully by Adam Gorham, who imbues each of them with little details that feel very true to the religion and region from which they originate.
One design that I particularly loved is that of Baron Samedi, who retains the classic Haitian skull-face design, but with an even more sinister edge, with glowing red eyes sunken into his sockets and hair that looks like it’s been growing in a dusty casket. Also, since the deities are possessing normal people in order to commune with Punk, those poor folks are peppered throughout the panels featuring those spirits. These pages are unsettling, but don’t quite veer into being horrific, thanks to our title character’s attitude toward these spirits.
Punk Mambo herself is a brilliantly written character. It can be so easy to get tired of someone who is always ready with a pithy remark or a dismissive smirk, but Cullen Bunn’s script manages to walk that fine line. Punk’s attitude is somehow admirable. She isn’t being snotty just for the sake of it; she’s asserting her independence and importance, facing down literal gods and refusing to back down.
I know I’ve made the John Constantine comparison before, but the difference is that John is bluffing. John Constantine would act all tough until the otherworldly forces backed off and he could live to smoke another day. On the other hand, this issue reinforces the idea that Punk will blow smoke right in the devil’s face and tell him to back off, because she has work to do.
It’s also fun to see one of these magician-types who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty. One of the most refreshing things about the action sequence in this issue is that Punk isn’t just going to stand back and cast spells; no, she’ll kick you in the jaw and then magically flip your insides with your outsides. There’s something wonderfully visceral about these scenes that feels different from what we normally get with urban fantasy comics.
The only minor drawback is that the central mystery doesn’t seem to move forward a whole lot in this issue. This one is full of fun character beats and a great action sequence that pretty much keeps that from being a real problem, however. There is still some forward momentum; Punk is on the trail of the Big Bad, but we still don’t know why Uncle Gunnysack is making these moves.
The mystery doesn’t feel quite as important when compared to the stylish fun on display throughout the rest of the story, but hopefully the next issue will provide a few more answers. Still, the last pages of this issue set up a fun chase for next month, and I am fully on board to find out where that leads!