Puppet Master - Puppetmaster III

Things have taken a dramatic turn in Action Lab: Danger Zone’s Puppet Master. The entire status quo that’s been building over the past ten issues has been completely annihilated. Once again, just when we think we know what to expect from this series, writer Shawn Gabborin throws a huge curveball our way.

Last issue, Anthony unleashed his dark side by forcing the puppets to kill several guests in the hotel who have been doing things that are not necessarily good, but in most of their cases, they were not doing anything warranting a death sentence. It was a shocking moment to see him make that order, but it’s even more shocking to see how he reacts to the decision he made.

We’re seeing a whole different side of Anthony now. It’s enough to make one wonder if he actually knows the difference between right and wrong. That wasn’t simply a demon inside of him coming out, he genuinely didn’t know how to handle that situation other than to kill those people. He insists that he “tried to be good” for the puppets’ sake and that of course is not remotely the same as being good. And yet, he has shown genuine empathy over the past several issues. He has done good things.

Puppet Master #18Even by the end of the issue, it’s clear that he feels bad. He even appears to be guilty. But it still doesn’t necessarily look like he understands what he did, at least not the full extent of it. By the end (spoilers, for the record) he’s back at the Bouldeston Institute, right where he started. But I certainly don’t think we’ve seen the last of him.

Even the puppets and Andre have gone their separate ways. That’s right, the mysterious new hotel guest that I began to suspect was Afzel actually turned out to be Andre Toulon, the puppet master himself, hopping from body to body. Believe it or not, Andre was my first guess, from the moment this character referred to a puppet as “old friend.” But I still didn’t think that would actually be the case. Now that we’re seeing Andre return to a human body, it raises a lot of questions.

Perhaps my favorite moment of the issue, though, comes in the mind theater where Anthony goes to talk to the puppets. They are so betrayed, so hurt by what he made them do. Shooter doesn’t even give him a chance to speak. I love the way Gabborin is developing this character in particular, who didn’t get much to do over the course of the earlier issues.

Puppet Master #18There are still a few things that I would have liked to see more of, chief among them, the Retro Puppets. I get that there’s a larger story being developed here, but they don’t do anything in this issue aside from giving us a great panel of the Retro and current puppets facing off against each other for the very first time. But even that isn’t dwelled on, it comes during a bigger moment. I’m excited to see their story unfold, but it’s a little weird to see them be the big reveal of the previous issue when there’s nothing done with them in this issue.

Still, this issue is packed with great moments and tons of Easter Eggs, maybe more than any single issue has given us in the past. While it feels more like set-up than the closure of the current story arc, it reminds us that there are good things in store for fans of the comic and the Puppet Master franchise as a whole.

WICKED RATING: [usr=7.5]