By Svetlana Fedotov
Though perhaps not one of the biggest horror franchises in the movie industry, Puppet Master has managed to carve itself out a nice little niche in the cult film scene. In fact, the little murdering puppets (or muppets as I like to call them) have proven so oddly popular that they have inspired not one, not two, but TEN sequels. I know; what cruel god has deemed it necessary to make so many Puppet Master movies is beyond the knowledge of man, but I’m sure it’s copyright related. It doesn’t stop there though, oh no! Action Lab has just recently finished their first Puppet Master mini-series, appropriately titled Puppet Master, about a group of college students who decide that the abandoned Bodega Bay Inn is the perfect place for a vacation. Spoiler alert: It’s not.
The plot, unfortunately, is FAR from original. I can guarantee you that you have seen a version of the story in every straight-to-DVD sequel of any horror series that is on its hundredth movie or so. That said, it’s a pretty fun read. Enter seven non-descript college students, wide-eyed and barely dressed, as they park in front of the Bodega Bay Inn looking to get drunk and bang. Stepping into the long forgotten building, they trade rumors about haunted puppets while picking at the sacrificial play dolls that scatter the ground. Soon, the sky gets dark and they scatter to various corners of the hotel, only to get slowly picked off one by one. Screams and panic spreads through the group like wildfire as they attempt to group everyone back together despite only going further into the killers’ traps. Could the rumor of the deadly little killers be real? Why are there so many leeches everywhere? Did that doll just move? Questions rise up as the comic reaches its grim conclusion.
So, like I said, not really original. The writer, Shawn Gabborin, seemed to focus more on making a movie sequel in comic form than actually exploring the universe of Puppet Master. It doesn’t read like it was written by someone who’s actually a fan of the series, but more by someone who watched a few of the movies as prep to writing the script and didn’t actually like the flicks. The thing is, whilst I totally understand that movie franchise has essentially turned into a giant joke, the actual premise is pretty rad. Nazis, puppets, revenge; that stuff practically writes itself! Comics don’t have budget limitations like movies do, just limits on the imagination. A Puppet Master comic is the perfect medium to explore the type of universe where cursed puppets are an actual thing! There are so many stories to choose from too! Hell, they could’ve written about the Egyptian curse/serum/demon blood that made those puppets happen in the first place (unless that’s a sequel already, I don’t know, there are lot of movies). The point is, with an essentially unlimited budget and so many things to explore, why choose the most obvious and boring story to do?
The art is definitely better than the story, but not outstanding. It’s art. Michela Da Sacco does a great job of conveying the story, with proper shadows and balance whilst the faces don’t distort. All the things you look for when reading a comic, but there is nothing too special about it. This is the kind of gal who we’ll probably see at Marvel or DC in a few years pumping out Young Avengers or Robin comics. Better than some of what I’ve seen though, and a lot better than I expected for this story.
Anyway, if you’re looking for a half hour to kill, pick up the Puppet Master mini-series. You won’t be any worse for it.