PopCultHQ received an advanced review copy of PUNK MAMBO #1 from Valiant Entertainment. Available April 24th, 2019, the creative team for this issue features writing from Cullen Bunn, art from Adam Gorham, colors from José Villarrubia, and lettering from Dave Sharpe.
Here’s PopCultHQ’s spoiler-free review of…
Cover B by Zu Orzu
Cover C by Cris Delara
Punk Variant Cover by Dan Brereton
Pre-Order Edition Variant Cover by Adam Gorham
Blank Cover Available
In her first-ever solo series, Punk Mambo investigates a series of abductions in the New Orleans Gutter Punk scene and stumbles upon a deadlier mystery that takes her – and her otherworldly loa companion – to the haunted shores of Haiti.
PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
PUNK MAMBO #1
Studded leather jackets and day glow hair go hand-in-hand with captive loas and summoned bone reaper blades. Punk Mambo’s first issue is a little crazy, a little creepy, and a lot of fun.
When Cullen Bunn has an interesting take and is paired with a great artist, stay out of the man’s way and let him serve you something you’re guaranteed to enjoy.
Punk Mambo leans more toward creative efforts like Magneto, The Damned, and the Sixth Gun while still carrying a sense of manic energy and fun of his X-Men work.
In terms of horror, his style is more big-budget slasher than atmospheric and haunting, but thematically he includes all the beats and notes the genre calls for.
The character of Punk Mambo, a Peter Milligan creation spun-out of Shadowman, does bear some elements of John Constantine and comparisons to this genre stand-out character would be unavoidable for anyone. But the story focuses on enough action and set-up that those comparisons will rinse away given the chance.
Cullen writes great character-infused narration and keeps up the pace, never sacrificing it for panels or dialogues of exposition or set-up. There’s always something interesting happening and pushing the story forward.
There are small moments that seem to jump or gloss over important info that would help a new reader immerse themselves in the character and world further, but nothing too glaring or disconnecting.
Wherever the story may lapse, Adam Gorham (the Violent, Jughead: The Hunger, New Mutants: Dead Souls) steps in and picks up the slack.
It can’t be long until we start seeing this man’s name near the words “exclusive contract” and on more higher profile books. Mark my words.
His layout work is as much a part of the storytelling as the script and gloriously embellishes both the horror and action. His figure work, character design, and body language work in tandem with the camera angles to give the pace of the issue that much more kick. When the book slows down, it still feels as though you’ll miss something important if you take your attention off-panel. Such is the strength of Gorham’s art.
It combines some of the best elements of Sean Gordon Murphy, early Chris Bachalo, and Steve Yeowell. So yes, it gives this book a Vertigo feel without that “trying-to-hard-to-be-Vertigo” finish.
With a pedigree that includes Sweet Tooth, Crossing Midnight, X-Men: Legacy and Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Jose Villarrubia seems the perfect choice to give atmosphere and a visual tone to the pencils in a book throwing punches in the supernatural arena.
Maintaining that creepy overtone while never selling short the bright, eye-popping characters ensures that Villarrubia deserves as much credit as anybody on the creative team for making this a transfixing reading experience.
Dave Sharpe has a huge volume of work with various Green Lantern titles and, for Valiant, X-O Manowar. Seemingly the odd one out in this creative team. But it’s his letterwork that tethers this issue to still feeling like a mainstream comic book and not veering too far into the little-known-cult-read territory.
His effects with the creatures during the opening fight sequence add impact and something horrifically tangible to the throwdown. There’s something just as blood-curdling and creepy to the horror elements as much as there is something attractive and distinctive to narrative boxes and speech bubbles.
A Mash-up of cultures that balances the punk aesthetics with voodoo mysticism surprisingly well. It’s refreshing to read a first issue that hits the ground running so well. It’s captivating action up front followed by good story on the comedown. This is supremely effective and feels more unique than expected. A great, cool looking, entertaining read.
4 out of 5 Stars
PUNK MAMBO #1 can be pre-ordered on ComiXology
and available at your local comic shop and
online retailers Wednesday, April 24th!
Writer – Cullen Bunn
Artist – Adam Gorham
Letterer – Dave Sharpe
Publisher – Valiant Entertainment