After a break of nearly a year, the Puppet Master comic series is back. For reasons we can mostly only speculate, the series needed to be reconfigured after issue 20. Instead of meeting its planned 30-issue run, we will instead get this three-issue wrap-up miniseries. I wouldn’t bring any of that background information into the review if I didn’t think it was relevant to the comic at hand, but I would say that it is. This first issue of Curtain Call is definitely setting up a grand finale.

It’s great to see not only the puppets again, but original characters like Anthony and Cedar that I’ve also come to care about. That’s the fantastic thing that Shawn Gabborin has done with this comic: expanded the mythology, embraced the original characters, and added bold new elements that feel almost as though they’ve been there the whole time. It flows. Nothing sticks out or feels forced.

We’re treated to a dynamic opening with this issue. Right away, we’re dropped into the middle of a tense sequence. A dinner for characters both old and new in which the mysterious Collector announces that all but one of them will die. It’s unnerving and Hitchcockian in the same way that the original Puppet Master was. And right from the get-go, we’re dropping bombs and revealing some harsh truths about our favorite characters.

Puppet Master Curtain CallNot too long ago, I had a very sudden epiphany when thinking way too deeply about these puppets as I often do. And it occurred to me that if Six-Shooter still hadn’t shared where he was during the events of Puppet Master and Puppet Master II, then it was something he was intentionally hiding from the others, maybe even ashamed of.

So I conceived a fan theory based around the simple idea that Six-Shooter was some kind of double agent. And while I was very wrong about who he was working for, I was shockingly right about the rest. That was a very cool twist, though I’d love to see the other puppets deal with that news within the next two issues.

There’s a lot of plot in this issue, a lot of setup as things grow dire for both the puppets and the human characters. That makes sense, because this is all about setting up a finale. The only problem that I think this issue has is that it is forced to play a lot of catch up. We only got two issues into the “Retro Now” arc, so we have to explain what happened to the retro puppets, explain who the collector is, explain why he’s been doing what he’s doing and what’s happened with Anthony since we last saw him and all of these other details in order to get all of the pieces in place for the final phase of the story.

Puppet Master Curtain CallIf the comic suffers at all for that, it’s only because of the circumstances. There was really no way around it when so much has happened and so much was planned that we didn’t really get to see. Even with this difficult balance, there are great character moments within these pages and some genuine surprises as well.

It’s bittersweet to see all of this start to come to a close, but at the same time, it’s absolutely amazing to see a Puppet Master comic series take on a life like this in the first place. If the previous issues are any indication, we’re in store for a surprising, imaginative and heartfelt final chapter.

WICKED RATING: 7/10