Best Shots Advance Reviews: PUNK MAMBO #0, DEADLY CLASS #9, INTERSECT #1

Art from Deadly Class #9
Credit: Image Comics
Credit: Valiant Comics

Punk Mambo #0
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Robert Gill and Jose Villarrubia
Lettering by Dave Lanphear
Published by Valiant Entertainment
Review by Vanessa Gabriel
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Punk is rebellion. Mambo is magic.

To fuse the two is a brilliant play on a traditional archetype, typically inspired by Afro-Caribbean paganism, making the punk identity of the character an insurgence in and of itself. With that bit of meta in mind, Punk Mambo explores the enigmatic reality of one riotously captivating witch.

Credit: Valiant Comics

The discord of this magic-infused, rebel Londoner against the soggy cacophony of the deep bayou sends sparks of strange energy through the story, all of which is wonderfully intended by Peter Milligan. The character’s inherent contrast is one of several dichotomies that Milligan touches on in this coming-of-age, revenge tail with a twist of self-awareness… and a macabre cherry on top.

The first two pages of Punk Mambo are alive with the horror that lives in the belly of the swamp, rather one that has a prideful priestess lurking in the tree-tops. While Milligan’s intro is akin to the smooth boil of glue, Robert Gill instantly immerses you in the grisly consequences of propositioning the Punk Mambo unprepared. He illustrates her power and the place where she wields it hauntingly well.

As the issue takes us back to her origin with a naïve glint in a young Victoria’s eyes flashing forward to the determined vengeance of Punk Mambo, the pages and panels are booming with highly wrought detail that translates the grit of Punk and the Voodou of this Mambo pitch-perfectly. But Punk Mambo’s defining qualities are her magenta Mohican and steel-blue eyes, executed energetically by colorist Jose Villarrubia.

Victoria lived a life of privilege and comfort until she was romanced by the Sex Pistols and tried her hand at donning the Punk regalia that inspired her so much. She then found herself, like many in the '70s London Punk scene, faced with poverty that has made many a young girl prey to more witting predators. As Victoria melts away, a Punk Mambo feverishly emerges, but not without the requisite dues paid. This is where Milligan turns Punk Mambo from conventional to clever, and imbues her with bold personhood that is righteously gratifying.

As is the nature of a one-shot, sometimes there isn’t enough space to tell the story. Punk Mambo would have been well-served with another page or two to measure out the pacing and add a bit more meat in certain moments, but overall the story told is satisfying. That being said, there is enough in this issue to kindle a fire of interest for the character beyond the context of Shadowman, perhaps into her own title.

The forks in Punk Mambo’s road lead her down an unusual path, one that convenes with Sid Vicious and is unnaturally long. This path also leads us to a notable new character and a tenacious comic worth the real-estate in your longbox.

Art from Intersect #1
Art from Intersect #1
Credit: Image Comics

Intersect #1
Written, Illustrated and Lettered by Ray Fawkes
Published by Image Comics
Review by Richard Gray
'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10

“A half-remembered melody bubbles up in my thoughts and vanishes.” This piece of narration almost perfectly sums up the reading experience of this new Image Comics title from Ray Fawkes, who has most recently been plowing his way through DC’s Constantine and Batman: Eternal. Yet it may be difficult for many readers to connect this Ray Fawkes with his more mainstream fare, being a stream-of-consciousness piece that defies the structures that most sequential art has been conditioned to adhere to.

Art from Intersect #1
Art from Intersect #1
Credit: Image Comics

Intersect is built on the insubstantial foundation of dream logic, and initially this concept is an intriguing one. To break the book down in terms of plot or narrative is almost futile, as it is not so much a story as a series of occurrences that take place within a loose structure. Melding body transmogrify with some kind of cat-and-mouse pursuit, Fawkes doesn’t guide us through his dreamscape but rather drags us along through it, loosely tethered behind him so we can at least closely follow, if not actually keep up. It’s a genuinely interesting way of putting a book together, one that Fawkes has described as a “puzzle”.

Art from Intersect #1
Art from Intersect #1
Credit: Image Comics

Yet those same factors that pique reader curiosity and invite us in for a closer look also serve to confuse. There is no real indication of exactly what is going on, and while having a whole lot of pieces to this jigsaw looks like a fun challenge, the lack of clear edges or corner pieces makes it difficult to see the bigger picture at this early stage. This may not, in fact, be a drawback once the whole series comes together, but it is difficult to assess this particular perplexity without some added perspective.

Artistically, the pages look gorgeous. Fawkes’ art is set mostly against a white, borderless background, his light pastels and watercolors feeling as though they’ve seeped through the page from the other side, rather than being illustrated directly. Details, as with most dreams, are difficult to clearly recall: some full profiles of figures while others look as though they are faces straining to be cut loose of the page by pushing through it. It’s lack of clear frames, bar a few lightly drawn purple lines now and again, adds to the impressionistic and dreamlike quality of the storytelling. The images add to the mystery of the piece rather than truly explaining anything. It begins with fragments of body parts, in some of the few tight frames in the book, before tripping out into a collage of images that is vaguely reminiscent of David Mack’s Kabuki.

Despite these narrative misgivings, there is certainly enough in this first issue of Intersect to warrant a second foray into Fawkes’ world. While the fragments presented here are not enough to gain a complete impression, they certainly tease enough to want to see more pieces and perhaps even participate in assembling the full portrait.

Art from Deadly Class #9
Art from Deadly Class #9
Credit: Image Comics

Deadly Class #9
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Wes Craig and Lee Loughridge
Lettering by Rus Wooton
Published by Image Comics
Review by Kat Vendetti
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Hey, Marcus actually has a pretty decent day! - Even if it is at the expense of poor Maria, whom we’re learning more about as Rick Remender delves further into Deadly Class’s second arc. This issue gives us a bit of Maria’s backstory and how she came to be connected to Chico and his family, while the rest of this chapter calms down and acts as a bridge between the brutal flashback of Marcus’ escape from the orphanage in Deadly Class #8, and the ensuing showdown versus his old roommate, Chester. But before that can happen, there’s music, dancing, and Saya even teaches Marcus a little something about enjoying life. It’s pretty tame for a group of teenage assassins who are trying to retrieve a dead body after a drug-fueled rampage through Vegas, but it’s not without reason - Deadly Class #9 sets up the remaining events for this second arc as it digs deeper into its characters and layers on new elements that will be sure to add to the drama.

Art from Deadly Class #9
Art from Deadly Class #9
Credit: Image Comics

Things were already pretty messy for the “Vegas Crew” - as they prepare to take on Chester (who gets a fitting new moniker), they must do so without exposing to King’s Dominion that they played a part in Chico’s disappearance. Saya has been doing most of the work moving things along in their mission, narrowing in on their target and even recruiting a new member to the team this issue, while some characters continue to deal with the aftermath of the first arc. But before things can move ahead, in Deadly Class #9 they take a well deserved break. Even with a lull in the overall action, Wes Craig continues to draw energetic panel layouts that fully capture the movement in this book, whether it’s the fear and frenzy of this issue’s opening pages, or the unbridled joy of the closing pages as some characters let loose. Lee Loughridge’s colors are never static, offering a unique color palette for each scene, from the muted school hallway to the bright pink and teal of the dance floor.

Art from Deadly Class #9
Art from Deadly Class #9
Credit: Image Comics

Deadly Class is continuing to show that it’s more than just a book about a school for assassins. Remender is methodical in the structure of his story, giving equal time to who his characters are, how their relationships with each other build, and what dangers they are going to face together. Marcus has developed from hardened and judgmental into someone who has gone through extreme lengths to be accepted. Maria is tough, capable of overpowering some of the strongest people at King’s Dominion, and has visceral and human reactions to the horrible things she’s had the guts to do and live through. And Saya, we know very little about, and Marcus is just starting to realize that.

This issue is a breather, but not without adding a few pivotal moments; though Remender is biding his time before Marcus and his crew take on Chester and his gang, he does so by fleshing out their relationships and motivations and still adding in a few surprises at the end. As this arc continues to build its momentum, Deadly Class #9 is a necessary piece in the grand scheme.

Similar content
Twitter activity