Valiant's anarchist princess of magic Punk Mambo is breaking out with her first solo series - and she''ll be joined by royalty: Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.
The ghostly spirit of Laveau will act as confidante/ally/thorn in the side for Punk Mambo as she's drawn out of her Bayou home to recover something precious stolen from her. The Damned's Cullen Bunn is working with New Mutants: Dead Souls artist Adam Gorham on this five-issue series debuting April 24 that aims to establish Punk Mambo as the centerpiece of magic in the Valiant universe.
Bunn spoke with Newsarama about Punk Mambo, his own ties to New Orleans and its culture, and how he sees Punk Mambo fitting into Valiant's world.
Newsarama: Cullen, who is Punk Mambo to you?
Cullen Bunn: Punk Mambo is possibly the most powerful magician in the Valiant Universe, but she just doesn't give a damn. It's interesting to me that her life is so tangled up in magic, which is really a system of rituals and rules and rites, but she rails against the very idea of rules. I think that internal contradiction makes Punk a character we can relate to.
Nrama: And what do you have planned for her in this five-issue series?
Bunn: I'm going to put Punk Mambo through the wringer in this book. She's tough as nails and cunning and powerful, but she is going up against an enemy that may be too much for her. This enemy will definitely be too much for her to handle alone - which is tough for her because she is such a loner. The challenge she faces will stir some old, painful memories, too, and those memories might be enough to crush Punk's fighting spirit for good.
Nrama: How familiar were you with New Orleans and the punk scene there before this comic book? How'd you get knowledgeable?
Bunn: I love New Orleans and have traveled there a bit. I've written other stories and series, such as Bone Parish, that take place there. I love finding connective tissue that makes New Orleans an even more perfect home for a punk like Punk Mambo, and I really dug into my research before I started writing. That said, Punk Mambo will not be spending a lot of time in Louisiana in this book. She's going to be traveling to another locale with deep-rooted connections to voodoo.
Nrama: That leads me to my next question: who is Punk Mambo up against here, and what brings her out of her cabin in the swamp?
Bunn: Punk Mambo would be completely happy keeping to herself. At the beginning of this series, though, something is stolen from her. It's not that she needs the thing that is stolen, but the fact that someone would dare rip her off is enough to make her blood boil. As she sets out to find the thief, she uncovers a deeper and more sinister mystery. She has a number of foes in this book, some human and some inhuman, but the most dangerous and surprising is a man named Azaire Aguilliard. I won't spoil what makes Azaire so dangerous, but he could very well shake the supernatural world (and the natural world, for that matter) so fiercely that it all comes crumbling down.
Nrama: I'm told Marie Laveau is in this series somehow - can you say how she fits in?
Bunn: Marie Laveau is the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans - a title some might attribute to Punk Mambo herself. She is such an amazing and interesting historical figure, I felt like she needed to be in the book. The problem, of course, is that Marie Laveau is dead. The solution, of course, is that we're telling a story in a world full of ghosts and magic and demons. Marie becomes something of a confidante, ally, and general thorn in the side for Punk.
Nrama: Valiant compares this to Constantine and the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Would you say that's apt?
Bunn: I definitely see the Constantine comparisons. Punk Mambo should be seen as the something, cursing, fight-ruthlessness-with-ruthlessness magical detective of the Valiant Universe, and I'm hoping this series helps more readers to see her in this light.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina introduces us to a secret world of horrific magic, and I'm doing something similar here. This series will start to build a kind of mythology that will last for a long time in the Valiant Universe.
Nrama: I see this bridging the sort of gap between horror and superheroes. How does it fit in that Valiant universe world?
Bunn: With characters like Shadowman, Valiant has always had horror heroes in their Universe. I think Punk Mambo dances between the horror and superhero genres. It's definitely a dark superhero tale. My hope is that a story like this will open the door to even darker stories in the future.
Nrama: I believe this is your first time working with Adam Gorham. How is this collaboration going?
Bunn: Adam is an amazing talent. I love the fun and action and horror he brings to every panel. He posts a lot of teases for the series on his Twitter (@AdamTGorham) and I encourage folks to check that out!
Nrama: Lastly, what are your big goals for this series?
Bunn: I want to establish Punk Mambo as a major player in Valiant's supernatural corners, and I'd love to open the door to more stories featuring her confronting the forces of darkness in different locales. When Punk Mambo comes out the other side of this series, there will be a new supporting cast and new revelations about her connection to her magical powers to explore!