Comics Features

REVIEW: Puppet Master Vol. 1 – The Offering

Written by Matthew Danko

Based on the 1989 film of the same name, this chapter in the >Puppet Master series does not disappoint. We return once again to the Bodega Bay Inn where it began so many years ago. Andre Toulon, the world’s greatest puppeteer, first created these menacing minions back in the 1930’s and brought them to life using an ancient Egyptian spell. Now, a group of teens journey out to the abandoned hotel for a weekend of booze and babes only to realize too late that they are in for a blood-bath.

As a fan of the film, and the nine or so sequels that came later, it’s hard not to compare a book like this to the original source material. For author Shawn Gabborin at Action Lab Entertainment, he was able to achieve a nice balance between staying true to the book’s roots, while also making it fresh and interesting for the new reader. Not to mention that illustrators Michela Da Sacco and Yann Perrelet are able to capture the true dark and gritty nature of the film in each panel. Yes, the book may have a somewhat familiar formula, but beyond the blood, mayhem, and puppet people there’s a good deal of character to keep you entertained.

The Formula: A group of teens + an abandoned building + a “true” ghost story + alcohol + sex = death. At least that’s how my math teacher would explain it to me. These are some of the staples of the horror genre that the author definitely leans on in this story. It’s a nice enough set-up, but that level of predictability can turn some folks away. So lets assume as a fan of horror you appreciate the formula, but you want to find the substance. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all the killings and the inclusion of my favorites like Jester, Blade, Pinhead, ect, but there is a wonderful amount of characterization which is what kept me reading.

For example: we see Jester alter his facial expression which lets the reader know he is conflicted. That’s a simple, yet effective approach to accomplish something my English teacher would say all of the time: “Show don’t tell.” Da Sacco and Perrelet’s fantastic use of color and shadow really set the tone for this piece and breathe new life into the story. As the kids first arrive at the Inn and the sun begins to set there are red and orange hues cast over each character. This composition emphasizes the impending doom for our naive adolescents before even stepping inside. Once they enter the building, every panel afterward is washed out and desaturated making it feel more like a horror movie – dark, drab, weary, and weathered.

The chosen design and style of this feature is reminiscent of shows like Tales from the Crypt, The Twilight Zone, and Are You Afraid of the Dark?. It resolves with a very satisfying and clear conclusion, yet lends itself to further installments to which these maniacal marionettes can return time and time again. It’s strong enough to stand on it’s own and still be a part of an anthology.

Above all, this was an excellent introduction back into the world of the Puppet Master, and although Puppet Master – The Offering has predictable moments it’s illustration, characterization, and tone – The Saturday Morning Serial lover in me is dying to find out what happens in Volume Two.

What did you think? Also, who’s your favorite pocket possessed pal of the bunch? A lot of people say Blade but mine has always been Jester. Let us know in the comment section below or send us a Tweet. Or if you want to sink your hook into this book check it out at Comixology.com and follow Action Lab Comics on Twitter! 

About the author

Matthew Danko