For those who may not be aware, one of the longest-running horror franchises in history, Puppet Master, has now returned in the form of a monthly comic book series. This is not the first Puppet Master comic either. There was also a limited series in 1990 to serve as a sort of origin story to the first feature. This comic actually served as the basis for fan-favorite sequel Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge. So while they aren’t even remembered by anyone but the most hardcore fans, these comics actually had a lot to live up to.
And the new series does just that. With the release of the third issue today, the opening arc ” The Offering” comes to a close. “The Offering” is a modern take on a traditional Puppet Master story in line with the first two films. In fact, it could easily have served as the template for a series reboot. It definitely brings to mind things like the Friday the 13th and Evil Dead reboots, which acknowledged the originals but also very much did their own thing. This goes a little further in re-establishing the traditional franchise lore, making sure fans understand that this is the same continuity they remember but also bringing new readers up to speed at the same time. From there, it goes into a totally new story, which is refreshing.The comic follows the traditional beats of a horror movie, even a slasher film, specifically, which is more than the feature films have done in quite a while. It’s about a group of college kids exploring the abandoned Bodega Bay Inn, telling ghost stories about the property and the things that supposedly happened there. This is important to note for a couple reasons, the number one being that the actual features have been prequels for awhile. The Offering is the first modern day Puppet Master story in some time. It’s also the first in an even longer time to show the puppets in a villainous role.
It really works, though. Especially for an opening arc. The characters aren’t necessarily as fleshed out as they should be, but the two leads definitely develop over the course of the three issues. There’s a lot more gore than I was expecting and, honestly, a lot more horror. It’s actually very nice to see this franchise return to its horror roots while keeping with the mythology and acknowledging that the puppets aren’t inherently bad. The horrific aspects even play surprisingly well in the comic format. The likenesses of the puppets are even better than the original comic series and the art makes effective use of light and shadow while the helpless youngsters are exploring the hotel.
Does the comic have some flaws? Of course. Some of the characters fall flat and some of the dialogue doesn’t really sound like something anyone would actually say in that given situation. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s the shot in the arm Puppet Master has needed for some time. It’s suspenseful, features inventive kills and at the same time has a story behind it all that is actually really interesting.
There’s a twist as the storyline develops that elevates beyond simply being about a group of college students getting picked off one by one. There turns out to be a lot more to it than that. Ironically, it’s a lot darker. I don’t want to give too much away, though, so readers should just pick up the first three issues and check them out for themselves. The books feature an interesting twist on the theme of putting a human soul in an inanimate object. Despite its bumps, I really enjoyed the overall story and am interested in where it’s headed from here.
Suffice to say, Puppet Master is much better than I expected it would be. It’s better than the movies have been in a long time. Any fan of that franchise should definitely pick it up. If you’re a horror fan in general, check it out. If you aren’t a fan of the franchise, it might make you one.
WICKED RATING: 7/10 [usr 7]