Punk Mambo #0
Writer: Peter Milligan
Art: Robert Gill
Colors: Jose Vilarrubia
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Covers: Russel Dauterman w/Matthew Wilson
Valiant, as many people may know, was around in the 90's for quite a bit, forming innovative teams and new characters. Here's something you might not have known about Valiant then: they had a bunch of Nintendo licensed titles (Captain N is hilarious). Here's something you might not know about Valiant now: Punk Mambo is a really killer comic, and it's out there. Look, you all know Peter Milligan. Through his works we have seen some incredibly stories that fleshed out characters such as Constantine, the X-Statix, Shade, and Animal Man. He also worked on one of my all time favorite Vertigo series, Greek Street (check it out for bonus points). This time around we see him teaming up with Robert Gill, who is no stranger to Valiant titles, having contributed his considerable talents to Eternal Warrior, Ivar: Timewalker, some Harbinger tie-ins (the Faith one is great, check it out for even MORE bonus points), as well as covers for Imperium, Divinity, Bloodshot: Reborn... all kinds of stuff. Each of these gentleman have a solid chunk of horror experience under their belt, and this one shot showcases their hair raising talent perfectly.
Victoria is a voodou priestess who lives deep in the bayou, waiting to help those whho bring her the proper tribute. One day when she is consulting with her spirit guide, Sid Vicious, she gets reminded of her humble beginnings that brought her from private school girl to squating punk. These recollections also bring up memories of how two of her "friends" Noxo and Doxy, tried to bargain her freedom to houngan (male voodou witch doctor) who collected girls in exchange for youth. The strong willed Victoria escaped, and later finds her on a path of revenge and redemption.
Milligan manages to capture 3 unique worlds in one issue. The weird, magic world which Victoria finds herself to be a part of is new and different to the readers but manages to feel just as cool as the environment of London's punk scene. That era in her life has a timeless look and the dialogue choices are perfect. The third world is the upper class private school life which Victoria experienced before her extreme wardrobe change. Obviously this is the most boring time in her life, but with snooty dialogue from all those around her, it makes her transition even more understandable. The conclusion of the story as well as the actions Victoria uses to retaliate against the wrongs done to her are very clever and well written, going between peaceful resolution and fearful engagement. Milligan has an understanding of horror and has the feel of punk well understood. He also has a good sense of time, and in one issue shows and builds upon the life progression of the other characters involved in the story
Gill's art does exactly what he meant for it to do. It is terrifying when it should be and realistic when t needs to be, but constantly showcases a morbid beauty. A small detail that I really appreciate is all of the bystanders in the book. Victoria has a unique look to say the least, and whenever she is practicing dark magic or simply waiting for the bus, she catches at least one curious glance. While we are on the subject of her look: I love it. Seriously from the vibrant explosive hair to the pinned jacket it just works in an incredible way. It looks even better when paired with Doxy, Noxo, and the evil houngan. The magic is in your face and terrifying... physically and mentally, the dark power is absolutely cringeworthy, definitely increased by Gill's level of fine lines and extra detail. Of course there is something to be said for Vilarrubia's colors, which help bring Victoria's look and the sinister nature of the magic in this book to a whole new level.
I was super stoked when this issue came out last November but couldn't find it anywhere for the longest time! Tucked away at my local shop I found a small stack and couldn't be happier. The product matched the hype, and I sincerely hope to see more of Victoria's magical shenanigans. Valiant has a large collection of great characters, and those found in Milligan and Gill's Punk Mambo are no exception. If you like horror, punk aesthetic, magic, and just great comics... then check this bad boy out. Oh, she has also appeared in the series Shadowman as well as 2 issues of The Valiant! As I mentioned earlier, this #0 is a one shot, and only costs $3.99. Thanks for reading!