Valiant are unleashing a new miniseries for ass-kicking magician Punk Mambo in April 2019, and this joins other titles as part of the “Breakthrough” slate which will also include The Life and Death of Toyo Harada, Fallen World bringing back Rai, and Killers, where we’ll see Ninja-A, Ninja-E, and Ninja-K teaming up.
Punk Mambo will be written by horror master Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Adam Gorham, and though it follows on Peter Milligan and Robert Gill’s well-received first volume, Bunn and Gorham look to take the character to the next level by exploring the roots of her magical powers and facing her off against some fearsome foes. At least one of which may be new to the Valiant Universe!
Punk Mambo editor Lysa Hawkins and the series’ scribe Cullen Bunn take over Comicon.com today to tell us why this punk is ready to take on the world in new and terrifying ways.
Hannah Means-Shannon: To start with a question for Lysa, what role do you think the Punk Mambo limited series plays in conveying the “Breakthrough” slate from Valiant this Spring? How does a character and a story like this fit into the mood of Valiant’s books right now?
Lysa Hawkins: All the titles in BREAKTHROUGH offer something old and something new. For the Valiant fans, they get characters they have been clamoring for, some who have not been seen in years, but more importantly, they get something brand new to sink their teeth into. Punk Mambo specifically showcases that point beautifully. You don’t need to know anything about her picking up issue #1. If this is your first introduction to the character, you’ll have everything you need to go forward, and if you pick up #1, you’ll definitely be picking up #2. BREAKTHROUGH is the perfect time for jumping into the Valiant Universe.
HMS: Punk Mambo is a character that everyone I know in comics seems to have viewed as having enormous potential in the Valiant Universe, and I think that Peter Milligan’s previous series really highlighted that. And yet those really big steps haven’t been taken yet. Cullen, is this series going to bring us the character and her role on a bigger scale in the Valiant Universe?
Cullen Bunn: You’re reading my mind! (Don’t do that… it’s awful in there!) When I took on this project, one of the goals I set for myself was to really lean into making Punk Mambo a bigger player in the Valiant Universe, to really stake a claim for her, both in the dark, horror-filled corners, and in the light as a hero. When this series wraps up, Punk will have gone through the flames of transformation and will have a new role to play.
HMS: It’s not a huge surprise to see you picking up a horror character with a lot of potential, Cullen. What were some of the key elements of her personality and story so far that appealed to you, and what gaps or areas of development did you notice in taking on a new series?
CB: Punk Mambo is, by the very definition of her name, a rule breaker. But she is bound to magic, a system of esoteric rules and rituals. In Voodoo, for example, the spirits “ride” or use mortal beings, but Punk Mambo would never have that! I wanted to play with the idea of who uses who and how someone like Punk would feel about that. Also, Punk Mambo’s origin is something that I think would trouble her deeply, but she covers it all up with this rough exterior. In this story, we’re going to see that rough exterior get broken down a bit. When that happens, some painful memories threaten to tear her down.
HMS: It seems like, in comics at least, but I think more widely too, magicians make tricky heroes. They aren’t exactly the most altruistic bunch, at best looking out for number one, and at worst seeking power over others. Where does Punk Mambo fit into that scale? What would keep her from just telling the world to “bugger off” and leave her to her own devices in this new series?
LH: Oh, Punk’s the worst! No, just kidding, but charitable she surely is not! There is nothing Punk Mambo likes more than to tell the world to sod off, and she does, all the time. However, in true hero form, when the world comes knocking, begging for her assistance, she, albeit begrudgingly, answers the door. That is NOT to say she doesn’t seek power over others. She does. For all her inner strength and impressive skills, she still has a lot to learn. In this series, Punk Mambo is going to come to some startling revelations about herself that will change the course of the antihero (hero?) she is destined to become. Punk Mambo is way more than just a fantastically written and beautifully drawn supernatural miniseries. It’s a story of self-discovery and salvation.
HMS: What, actually, is the source of Punk Mambo’s magical power, and what kind of abilities should we expect of her in this arc? How do her powers scale against the darker forces she might be up against?
CB: Punk Mambo has a great connection to the magical world, and her magic is filtered through her eyes, so the various powers we see her manifest are unique to her. I think she shows a greater range of abilities than she has displayed in previous issues. There are so many spells and incantations that she can call upon. She’ll have to push her limits against some of the forces she is facing in this series. There’s one foe who will challenge her in a way she is not expecting. She’s going to need more than magic to survive that encounter.
HMS: Can you tell us a little bit about the settings we’ll encounter this time around? Are we in familiar territory in Louisiana, or will the story take us further abroad?
CB: For this series, I wanted to take Punk somewhere we haven’t seen her before. While the book starts in Louisiana, the mystery Punk is trying to solve quickly takes her to Haiti. She’s going to be out of her element there, but she shoulders it like a real punk.
HMS: What sorts of other beings, fair or foul, is Punk Mambo going to encounter in the new series? To what degree will she able to trust others, or will it be every punk for herself?
CB: Punk will make some surprising allies in this series. I don’t want to name them just yet, but they have a connection to Voodoo culture and have not, as far as I know, made their presence known in the Valiant Universe just yet. Some of these friends will stick with her for a good long while. She will also be encountering a group—dare I say pantheon?—of characters who want something from her. She can’t—and doesn’t—trust them, but she is stuck with them. As for enemies, Punk will be facing a ton of them, some drawn from Louisiana folklore, some from Voodoo legends, and some I’m creating for this series. The newly created villain is a character I think could haunt Punk (and other Valiant characters) for a long, long time.
HMS: Can you tell us some of the aspects of artist Adam Gorham’s work that most appeal to you in his artwork on this series, whether it be in character designs, dynamism, or atmosphere?
CB: Adam does such an amazing job with this character. He balances the horror elements and the action pieces with this kind of fun, Devil-may-care attitude that Punk flaunts. I’ve talked to more than one writer who is jealous that I get to work with Adam, and I can absolutely see why.
LH: I’m such a fan of Adam’s work! I have to say, and it’s not just because I’m the editor, I really believe this may be some of his most exceptional work. You can see his excitement with every page he delivers. The way he lays out a page engages the reader right away. I was hooked from page one, getting pages from him (and to be entirely fair and honest, all the talent on this book) is like Christmas to me. His take on Punk is so darn compelling. The layers he puts in her expressions. She’s tough, yet her vulnerability is there, lurking just below the surface. He brings her to life and not just her, to all the book. The new characters he and writer Cullen Bunn are creating and designing for the series will transcend this series and become part of the fold in the Valiant Universe.
Big thanks to Lysa Hawkins and Cullen Bunn for answering our questions with so much detail and interesting teaser info!
Punk Mambo #1 will land in comic shops in April 2019!