From the pages of ‘Shadowman’ comes the sensational new character find of 2014! (Don’t question her on this, or she’ll likely put her boot in your face…) Your Major Spoilers review of Punk Mambo #0 awaits!
PUNK MAMBO #0
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Robert Gill
Colorist: Jose Villarubia
Letterer: Dave Lanphear
Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Punk Mambo: “From a posh girls’ boarding school to the slimy gutter of the London punk scene to sniffing voodoo glue in a Louisiana swamp, how did Shadowman’s black magic bon vivant haul herself from the upper crust to the backwater of the Big Easy’s voodoo underground? Punk Mambo is about to head back home to spread some much-needed anarchy in the UK…and confront the ghosts of her past head on! The punks and the voodoo priests she used to know have cleaned themselves up, and she’s a loud, belching ghost from their past, come to break in the new furniture… and break some faces!”
MAYHEM AND REVENGE
The opening pages of this issue are an impressive tour de force of how to establish your character seemingly effortlessly. We open with two young men venturing into the swamp to interview The Punk Mambo and discover the secrets of her strange world, only to find that you must bring a tribute in order to seek her audience. The Punk herself watches, narrating in the first person, explaining how her magic works, how she boils down bits and pieces of corpses into glue that she then huffs to achieve her strange visions. It’s an odd melange of comic book voodoo and the punk scene of 30 years ago (especially in her choice of spirit guide: Sid Vicious. THE Sid Vicious. Not THAT Sid Vicious.) Her vision sends her back to London, where she remarks on how much the city and the punk scene have changed, queueing up her flashback/origin sequence. Escaping the poshest of schools in her teenage rebellion, she fell under the spell of a seemingly immortal punk, whom she learned was a voodoo houngan himself. Trapped with other girls, she watched and learned, and took control of her own magic to escape his thrall (and, seemingly, became immortal as well.) Peter Milligan is a writer whom I first encountered back in the actual 1980s, and his take on the character and on London reminds me of the salad days of Vertigo books, where everybody said bollocks and dark magic lurked in every corner… Frankly, I love the hell out of it all.
WHO SHE IS AND HOW SHE CAME TO BE
The Punk makes her way through her old haunts, tracking down the “friends” who fed her to wicked Joe Mayhem, but finds only sad shells of the friends she once knew. Even Mayhem himself has lost his magic, and when she finally confronts him, she realizes two important truths: She LIKES being who she has become. And Joe Mayhem didn’t make her, she made herself. It’s a really strong character moment (followed by a headbutt), made even more enjoyable by the wicked grin on her face as she comes to terms with her life and her role in the world. Artistically, this whole issue is like an old friend for me, evocative of the old days, somewhat loose and scratchy of line, without losing texture or definition. I especially enjoy the range of expressions that Gill gives the characters, matching the big beats of Milligan’s script perfectly. The hints of unsavory elements in her magic are handled well, hinted at, but not made grossly overt, and the effect lets the readers fill in the blanks with our own sick and twisted imaginations. The idea of the main character seems almost silly on the surface, but the execution of a British punk rocker infused with the power of voodoo ends up as compelling as equally inexplicable characters (like Deadman, the ghost of an aerialist given form by a strange Tibetan deity; or Cyclops, a young mutant George Washington whose father is a space pirate and whose telekinetic girlfriend houses an extraplanar goddess.)
THE BOTTOM LINE: I LIKED THIS ONE
Long story short (too late?), I really enjoyed this issue. Milligan hasn’t lost a step, the main character’s voice is compelling and charismatic, and the visual aspects of the character are a hoot, throwing back to long ago days of Sid and Nancy and moshing seas of leather with studs. Punk Mambo #0 is a VERY strong debut, both in terms of story and of art, and it’s one that I hope kicks off an ongoing series that maintains this level of quality and story, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. Valiant 3.0 has the makings of a hit on their hands with this character…