Punk Mambo #2 finds the titular priestess in Haiti, following the trail of whoever is kidnapping the spirits. The loa are unhappy about Punk Mambo’s brazen lack of respect for her powers and the customs of voodoo. They need her, however, if they’re going to stop Uncle Gunnysack and recover their stolen comrades.
The story is a bit more compact than in our first issue, allowing Bunn to delve into more characterization. The interactions between Punk Mambo and the loa flesh out her character, while giving personalities to the loa as well. We’re also introduced to Josef, a Haitian priest tasked by the loa to assist the mission. Throughout Punk Mambo #2, Josef plays an important role as an observant devotee to contrast with Punk Mambo’s lack of reverence.
Punk Mambo, as a character, doesn’t respect the spirits or the Voodoo faith in general. She’s essentially colonizing the religion and using it for her own personal gain. It’s a troublesome point, but Bunn doesn’t let that go unremarked upon. He employs the character of Josef as an effective foil who’s willing to challenge Punk Mambo and call out her behavior.
The dialogue in Punk Mambo #2 is strong and witty, making the characters feel very organic and believable. This tends to be one of Bunn’s strong suits, and he certainly doesn’t disappoint here.
A good deal of the issue focuses on the interactions between Punk Mambo, Josef, and Marie. That’s not to say, though, that there’s no action. The trio end up in a showdown with Uncle Gunnysack’s devotees in the book’s second half. That said, the fight doesn’t really seem to add much, as Uncle Gunnysack himself shows up shortly after. It’s nice in that it adds some dynamics to the otherwise subdued storytelling, and it allows Punk Mambo and Josef to showcase their abilities. It doesn’t really serve to advance the narrative much, though.
Adam Gorham’s lines for Punk Mambo #2 are excellent. He presents a lot of eye-catching, dynamic imagery throughout, and the work generally flows extremely well. Panels are meticulously detailed and vibrant, really grounding the reader in the environment.
One of Gorham’s strengths is in his expressive faces. Readers can detect subtle changes in characters’ expressions—a slight smirk, the furrowing of a brow—and pick up significant tonal information. Going off that point, his designs for the loa are awesome. Even if one knows nothing about Voodoo as a religion, you can still draw key context about what each spirit represents based on the way they’re portrayed. Uncle Gunnysack is perhaps the most impressive and imposing, looking something like a more-terrifying cross between Krampus and a pro wrestler.
The colorwork by José Villarrubia and letters by Dave Sharpe are on-point here, too. Villarrubia employs a wide palette of colors, with dark, radiating tones for the loa, but bright, softer colors for street scenes and marketplaces. Even Sharpe’s letterwork on the loa give the reader key insight into each spirit’s personality and tone.
Punk Mambo #2 keeps up the momentum from our first issue, while advancing and enriching the overall narrative. It’s a fun, engaging story, brought to life by quality artwork. Definitely check this out.