This issue of Puppet Master really jumps in with both feet after establishing a new set of characters and a new status quo in the previous issue. It’s also scarier, much more unnerving and has shown a very different tone than the last arc. For me, this is definitely a good thing. It keeps things fresh and makes the book as a whole feel all the more exciting. This is much more of a horror story than “Rebirth” was, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like the first arc at all.
Camille proves her effectiveness as an antagonist by sticking to the shadows for most of the issue. This definitely makes her scarier than she would have been otherwise. However, there’s a surprising development toward the end of the issue in her brief showdown with the puppets: When she gets cut, she bleeds.Now, this is just me speculating here, but I only see this going in one direction that—even if I guessed it—I’m perfectly fine with. I expect that the reveal will end up being that Camille is no longer a human-sized puppet and has returned to a flesh and blood form as the Institute’s mysterious director, who is constantly trying to sweep all rumors and stories of the old Camille myth under the rug.
While this current, main plot develops we also pick up from the last issue, with the puppets being visited by Anapa’s followers who say that it is time to complete the first of their seven tasks. They take Leech Woman and Six-Shooter, although we really only focus on Leech Woman. Now, my one single complaint here is that Leech Woman is tasked away for her own story, which sort of distracts from the main plot and would have made for an excellent one-off instead. They had the opportunity for a one-shot and they didn’t take it, although I can understand why.
These tasks are still very interesting and help to build an overall narrative to the series as a whole. Anapa isn’t going to simply just let the puppets be human again, he has to have an end game of his own. We also know nothing of the people the puppets are being tasked to kill, only what Anapa’s followers tell Leech Woman and Six-Shooter when they send them off on their little side-mission.
It’s great to see the continued attention to detail, which does not cease to amaze me even now that we are nine issues into the series. This whole arc is designed to explain away a loose end from 1990, but it isn’t just that. It tells a new and interesting story at the same time. The followers of Anapa that we see here appear to be the same followers of Anapa’s father, Sutekh, that we saw in Retro Puppet Master. Gabborin’s treatment of them actually makes me wish he had written Retro, because he knows exactly how to use these characters and how to make them interesting, whereas they were actually pretty insufferable to watch on the screen.
Overall, Puppet Master #9 is a strong issue that continues to build and interesting, eerie story. I can’t wait to see what happens from here.
WICKED RATING: 7.5/10