Puppet Master has been a great comic in terms of character arcs and bringing back old, classic elements and characters from the franchise. It’s been excelling at that recently. But issue #14 works for slightly different reasons. This time, we’ve got an issue that goes for broke in terms of balls-to-the-wall insanity. And it works because the story has been setting this up from the beginning. Basically, this whole comic is one long, extended fight sequence but this whole fight has been earned, and that’s what makes it special. You can read this and see just how well writer Shawn Gabborin outlined the whole thing.
This issue, kicking off a new storyline, has a very simple plot. The demon God Anapa, son of Toulon’s arch-enemy Sutekh, has returned to physical form and has his sights set on nothing less than the Earth itself. The actual Earth is at stake in a Puppet Master comic. This evil god has lived out his long existence in a demon dimension and now he’s free to walk the world of man. While this has been a great horror comic from the beginning, this issue has moved us into full on comic book shenanigans with the greatest of ease.
Toward the end of the issue, we see the return of Camille—for real, this time. While the third arc centered around her, we didn’t really see her until the end of it, and it looked like she had been resurrected for a short period only to be killed again. You’d think that this would be the major twist of the issue, but it’s actually not—which I guess is a twist in and of itself. Toulon has an ace up his sleeve that appears at the very end of the issue, something that should give the side of the heroes a little boost, but I don’t want to get into what it is because I want to leave some surprises for people who haven’t read the book yet and are only reading this to spoil things for themselves.
One thing that really surprised me, as a reader who’s been following along, is that it’s Camille who makes an appearance instead of Neil Gallagher. Where’s Neil in all of this? We’ve revealed that Anthony is his son but we still don’t totally know the mechanics of that, nor do we know how Neil is still alive. I’m sure that explanation is simply being held off for now, but I’m curious when and how it is going to come into play. I’m also curious how long Gallagher has been alive for and what he’s been waiting for to stay in the shadows without making a play until now.
There’s some great fight sequences in this book, all handled spectacularly by Michela De Sacco. The puppets get to do a lot of brawling, and they finally put down Anapa’s two minions, who go out in a way more satisfying style than the henchmen in Retro Puppet Master. It’s always been cool to see how the puppets fight in the comic because they’re doing things they could never do in the movies, but it all fits in with how those puppets act on the screen. Everything they do on the page, extravagant as it is, feels like a natural progression.
The fight that begins here is not only something that has been progressing in the pages of this comic, but in the franchise from the very beginning. Puppet Master has always been about Faustian pacts and deals with the devil. There have always been deals made and prices to pay and now we’re seeing that on a much larger scale than we ever have before, partially because–after all this time–Toulon still hasn’t learned his lesson. This comic is doing great work of expanding on themes that were introduced in the movies but that the movies never really had time to explore. I think we’ll see that even more in the next issue, with the introduction of a certain figure at the end, but we’ll get into that later.
WICKED RATING: [usr 8]