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Comic Review: Puppet Master #17

Puppet Master - Puppetmaster III

Puppet Master #17 manages to advance the story in an interesting and unexpected way, but it also has the advantage of being really, really weird. There have been a lot of smart moves in this comic in terms of taking new and fresh directions and fleshing out the mythology, but I hadn’t seen it go truly weird until this issue. That’s not a bad thing by any means. The Puppet Master series, like all Full Moon productions, have always had these absurd little moments and characters that really have no reason to be there other than to provide audiences with something a little different and unexpected.

They did it with the stuffed dog in the original, the redneck couple in the second and so on and so forth, and now they’ve done it again with a trio of luchadores and their manager who have stopped over for a stay at the Bodega Bay Inn during the middle of our currently unfolding plot.

The overall story is still developing in a very interesting way, too. We still have a mysterious guest at the hotel and the Toulons are still totally MIA. Anthony and the puppets are scrambling to figure things out, but there are a lot of bad things happening here. Up until this point, Anthony has been a puppet master very much in the vein of Rick from Puppet Master 4 and 5. He genuinely wants to help, wants to do the right thing, but Anthony has had even more of that sense of innocence about him because he’s just a kid.

Puppet Master #17

But in this issue, we start to see a very different side of Anthony. It’s one that, to the credit of Gabborin, has been teased since the character was first introduced. Anthony’s origin is something that has slowly been unraveling and I love the care that’s been taken with telling us just enough about him without giving too much away just yet. We know that his father is original Puppet Master baddie Neil Gallagher, we know that there’s a little demon in him, but we haven’t seen it until this issue.

And it’s a shocking moment, for sure. Anthony feels at the end of his rope with the horrible things that are going on at the hotel. He brings the puppets into the psychic theatre space where he usually speaks to them to allow them each to voice their opinion. This time he doesn’t even let them get a word in. He just goes over all the things that are going on, his eyes turn red, and says he wants these people dead. This is a scary moment, but it’s also an emotionally impactful one.

Part of the Puppet Master lore is that while the puppets have their own will and individual personalities, they have to obey the will of the designated puppet master. They’ve been building a very trusting relationship with Anthony, he’s been the best master they’ve had in a long time, and all of that has been somewhat compromised by the order he’s just given them.Puppet Master #17Amazingly, this turn from Anthony isn’t even the issue’s biggest surprise. Coming out of nowhere, even if I somewhat expected their return, we see that the retro puppets—of the seventh entry in the saga, Retro Puppet Master—are back in action. I thought it would be interesting if they were to turn back up, I’ve been thinking it would be amazing to see in this comic for some time, but that doesn’t mean that I actually expected it to happen.

Their return also makes me think that I’m probably right in my original guess as to who this mysterious new guest in the hotel is. I could be way off base, but with the way he spoke last issue, I began to think it may be Afzel, the sorcerer who introduced Toulon to the magic that brought his puppets to life all the way back at the turn of the twentieth century. The flashbacks we were given would date him all the way back to that introduction, the idea that this person keeps reincarnating would make sense for Afzel as he had a lot of magic tricks up his sleeve. Plus, he refers to the retro puppets as old friends and that would make the most sense, given he was one of them, as he was the personality behind Retro Six Shooter.

This is, of course, just me being a fan and theorizing. I have no idea how this story—which may be both the weirdest and most intricate from this comic yet—is going to pan out. But I can’t wait to see what happens, and that means that Puppet Master is still very much a comic at the top of its game.

WICKED RATING: [usr=8]

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Written by Nat Brehmer
In addition to contributing to Wicked Horror, Nathaniel Brehmer has also written for Horror Bid, HorrorDomain, Dread Central, Bloody Disgusting, We Got This Covered, and more. He has also had fiction published in Sanitarium Magazine, Hello Horror, Bloodbond and more. He currently lives in Florida with his wife and his black cat, Poe.
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