I was a bit taken back that already we have hit the finale for Punk Mambo. Valiant wasted no time with throwing us into the final chapter and finale confrontation between PM and Azaire. I can appreciate that because two weeks is just enough time to jump into this with the events of the previous issue still fresh in our minds. Plus, who didn’t want to see what comes next when PM and Josef prepare to take the fight to the guy who tried to turn their worlds upside down?
What made me so anxious for this issue was to see what in the world PM and Josef would have to do in order to defeat Azaire. Both are quite capable in their field, but Azaire has the power of all the spirits and loas he absorbed. It would take something big or very creative for them to somehow overcome this difference in power. I enjoyed every bit of what happened once these two forces clashed. I enjoyed everything that did go her way, and everything that did not. Sometimes I actually do find myself a lot more interested in when things don’t go her way. That tends to be where you run into the more unique experiences like what she dealt with. Of course nothing is quite as it seems on the surface, but what do you expect from someone who tends to have to be conniving in order to get one over on someone else? When you have a sorcerer as reckless as Punk Mambo, what also doesn’t surprise is when that experience throws you right into the belly of the beast.
As far as last pushes for character development? It was welcomed that even at the very end no one would pull punches with their opinion of Punk Mambo. Some things said about her definitely stung because they were true, and almost impossible to argue with. And what makes engagements like this so compelling is that PM is utterly aware of all of these things. Her self-awareness is really what gives her such an edge over those who underestimate her. They don’t realize the kind of motivation you can get from simply rebelling from everything proper.
In the end, Azaire made for a great villain. It was hard to really have an opinion of him until he was actually introduced and made his presence known to Punk Mambo. Fortunately when he made his impression? He made it long-lasting against someone who doesn’t like to be made a joke of the way he did. Even in this moment where he has all the power, the effect was the same since in essence most would feel powerless against someone who has reached the level he achieved.
Like Punk Mambo #4, I still appreciated the little bits of depth given to the world of loas. For as strong as our ties to this world should have been through Shadowman, we truly didn’t explore the rules of this world as much as we could have. Not to the degree that PM got into when explaining the way that magic works for them. The tug and pull between forces that they manipulate, and the consequences for when you dabble in what you can’t handle. Which the first scene of this issue gave us the perfect example of. Only in this case, we were simply seeing what happens when you cross a mambo who follows her own rules. By the end of this finale, it was at the same time clever how they teased that there are still greater things to discover. Such things as greater plans that can go unnoticed. Especially when it was quite easy to forget that everyone has been calling PM by a name that she is not familiar with.
Consistency has been a big thing for this art team that I’m glad that I have been able to commend them for since the first issue.It was in this issue where they did go the extra distance to give us something new. There was a special place that Punk Mambo had to take this fight, and that came with a style that was unique for the twisted venture into a void. The colors in particular popped for the way that they clashed. Warm, cold, everything in between they threw together to capture the chaos of the atmosphere. This page spread in general had an interesting transition of actions, as well as a creative way of separating these actions to make sure we were following the story correctly. The placement of the text helped too. One thing that did manage to stand out in this issue is the way that Punk Mambo can be drawn with her face betraying the things she says. That’s something I’ve always like about the way that she is drawn. She withholds her feelings deeply, and it can easily be a smile or a turn of her face in another direction which says something entirely different in a scene. These small things make a big difference in shining a light on her vulnerabilities without making it a thing.
Punk Mambo #5 brings our first solo for this fan-favorite character to a close. This was worth the wait for everything that this creative team made possible for us getting to know Punk Mambo. We knew her by her personality and reputation up to this point, but this was the time to genuinely pull back the layers for us to get to know her in a new way. Not to mention it was the time for us to really see her as the badass we know her to be in her element.