Puppet Master has not only made it to its 20th issue, its completely gone off the rails—in the best way possible, of course. This series has done some extremely inventive things with the franchise’s underlying mythology, but now it’s finally gotten weird. And that’s exciting. Two thirds into his run, writer Shawn Gabborin isn’t pulling any punches.
The main plot deals with Toulon and the Retro Puppets investigating a heavily Jonestown-inspired cult, a commune named Peterstown. Named after the cult leader’s grandfather, Peter Hertz, Toulon’s young helper from Puppet Master III who also had a brief stint as Puppet Master in the eighth film, The Legacy. These people practically pray to the magic of Andre Toulon and, like most scary cults, they’re planning a mass exodus.
The end goal for this cult is that they will all kill themselves so that they will be resurrected in human-sized wooden bodies. This is a such a morbidly bizarre twist on the mythology and one that has to affect Toulon in major ways. Not only is this a total abuse of the magic, but it’s a plan that he once tried on himself. When he was dead and crazy in Puppet Master II, this was the exact plan he had for himself and Elsa.
Given that fans are still upset by Toulon’s actions in the second film, I would love to see that personal approach taken by the end of this arc. I want Andre to get mad about this. He’s been so level-headed for so long in this series, despite everything that’s happened, that I think this would be the perfect opportunity for him to lose it.
In general, it’s really fun to see Andre and the Retro Puppets back in action. They have a different dynamic than the main group. These are still his old friends, but it’s much more ordered. These guys are back for a single task, pretty much. I like what Gabborin did with the Retro Puppets by explaining that they never stuck around because their revenge was much more focused than the main puppets. They wanted to avenge their deaths and then they just wanted to be dead.
Unless something major happens, it’s understood that once they’ve taken down this cult, they’re just going to head back to the great beyond. But the focus on the Retro characters doesn’t mean we don’t see the main puppets, they just take the back seat on this arc. Honestly, I’m fine with that. They’ve had tons of character development throughout this series and fans have a lot of catching up to do given that Retro Puppet Master was the one and only appearance of these characters until this arc began.
The scenes with the main puppets seem to be building toward something bigger. It looks as though the overriding antagonist Anapa is working to bring several of the villains that have appeared in this series down to a puppet-sized level. While we’re still ten issues out, this feels like build-up for the finale.
Marco Carrillo’s art is a different kind of style than we’ve seen in a few of the previous arcs. I think his style works perfectly for this particular storyline, though, as it is very intentionally different and therefore needs to have a fresh look and feel. I think the art definitely accomplishes that.
It’s nearly impossible to tell where things are going to go from here. How is Mephisto alive? What’s the deal with these human-sized puppet cosplayers? What are the main puppets after? Who is this mysterious puppet collector and what does he want? These are all things that I have no doubt will be revealed in time, and have my own theories about like any obsessive fan, but I’m eagerly anticipating the reveals nonetheless.
WICKED RATING: 8/10