Punk Mambo #0 (Valiant Comics)
Story : Peter Milligan
Art : Robert Gill (art), Jose Villarrubia (colours) and Dave Lanphear (letters)
A character spinning out in her own one-shot from Valiants voudoo and mysticism heavy Shadow-Man comic – arguably the weakest of their impressive line of comics, which is not a major drawback given the consistently great and readable comics in that line, but when buying comics it can be a reason to pass a title over.
Yet, if you’ve read the series that spawned this, you would know that Mambo is maybe one of the the most intriguing bit characters around and stood out in her too-brief appearance so it’s not surprising.
With that in mind, I picked up and started reading this comic and to my great surprise, it was not exactly what I expected, in a good way. Instead of a one-off overly intense adventure with far-reaching consequences and high drama, we get a very intimate tale that takes us into the life and mind of our heroine. The story starts in the familiar swamp that is her home and see her in her element, then just as she has a vision that makes her want to travel back to London, it moves into her past, her origins. Instead of some long, dark recall, we get to see how a privileged girl leaves it all behind to go punk during the height of the movement – only to be betrayed by those she thought were her friends and left as meat for a voudoo-punk mage.
It’s all tad rushed but still the character and emotion of Mambo comes across really well as she returns home in the present day and reaches a clarity and peace with her path – the story coming quite close to the too-familiar story and keeps it interesting and by the end leaves you quite satisfied and wanting to read more stories with her in them.
What really stood out for me from the start though, was how very much she reminded me of one John Constantine from his earliest years. Not that she was a copy, but there are similarities that cannot be denied, yet she retains her own character, both an effect of and credit to the writer Peter Milligan who has also written a healthy amount of Constantine’s adventures. The feeling of similarity also comes out in the artwork which to me felt quite reminiscent of early Hellblazer and I must admit that was a happy bit of nostalgia in the old feels so points to the art-team over and above what they get for an already well-drawn book.
All in all this is not a light and breezy comic, but it’s a good solid read and if you like interesting characters then Punk Mambo is definitely your lady. Can’t say if she’s ready to carry her own series but I’d definitely look into it if she did and in the meantime I’d settle for seeing more of her now and again in Valiants other titles.
SCORE: 9.3 / 10