Monday, November 17, 2014

Review - Punk Mambo #0


"Punk used to be so different. It felt dangerous."

Punk and mambo are two seemingly disparate types of music. The former is known for fast, hard-edged music, while the latter is generally more upbeat. Combine the two though and you get an almost entirely different beast altogether. What's that beast you ask? Valiant Entertainment has a response in Punk Mambo #0, written by Peter Milligan and illustrated by Robert Gill.

Victoria has lead something of an interesting life rife with charm at certain points. She started at a posh girls boarding school before transitioning to the gutter of the London punk scene, ending up with an affinity for voodoo in the swamps of Louisiana. It's through visit back home that she catches up with a couple of punks from her past in Noxo and Dexy, as well as a voodoo priest named Joy Mayhem. Unlike most other reunions though, the three she's going to see would probably rather she didn't go see them.

Punk is most often related to the music that accompanied the movement, but there's a lot more to it than just that. It was an idea of being counterculture and Milligan really nails that concept in Punk Mambo #0. Victoria's return to London is a great way to show the reader that there are remnants of the punk scene, but very little of what's left holds a candle to the way things were. In that regard, the punk scene acts a vehicle for the concept of voodoo and acceptance. Those who considered themselves "punk" found it difficult to gain any traction in terms of popularity with those around them. Milligan taps into this idea of being an outcast and spins it on its head, merging it with the idea of punk being an avenue of voodoo.

There's always been a certain griminess associated with punk, replete with a mish-mosh of colors and styles. Gill taps into these recognizable traits of the movement and illustrates them quite elegantly. His style seems to evoke the 80s in terms of its finishes and palette, effectively transporting the reader back to a different world. Victoria's look is very appropriate for the work as well, as Gill creates her as an outsider to both society and voodoo. Based on her appearance, she's not the first person you would think deftly manipulated voodoo magic and Gill manages to illustrate her in a way where the only place she does "fit in" is with the punk scene. There are a few panels where the voodoo takes full effect and Gill infuses those panels with a sufficient level of mind-bending horror.

Punk Mambo #0 is a fascinating book at the intersection of punk and voodoo. It visits the former with a sort of reverence and longing for what it once was, while it treats the latter as a dangerous multiplier of sorts. Gilligan's story is an extremely straightforward revenge tale, but Victoria is very likable as a main character, despite her seeming inability to be part of any world larger than her own. Gill's illustrations are a fantastic fit for the book, offering a look at the often gritty and unkempt world of punk. Punk Mambo #0 is a great one-shot that presents a very interesting lead in Victoria who could offer an intriguing draw to other stories.

Punk Mambo #0 is in stores November 19.

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