• Pumpkinhead #1

    Pumpkinhead #1
    Released by: Dynamite Entertainmant
    Released on: February21st, 2018.
    Written by: Cullen Bunn
    Illustrated by: Blacky Shepherd
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    “For each of man’s sins, a special demon exists.”

    The first page of the first issue of this new series from Dynamite Entertainment based on the movie series of the same name brings us back to Bradley Mountain ‘long ago.’ Here an old ‘granny’ tells a group of kids how they need to go out to Razerback Holler and ‘find yer demon.’ They do as they’re told, wandering out into the night looking for the graves she told them were out there, when a girl named Nettie picks on a girl named Haggis. The other girls make fun of her, tell her that all she deserves is the scraps, just like she always gets. But Haggis is a bit more determined, she climbs up a little higher than the other girls to find her demon.

    In the present, in the town of Wrightson Mills (hopefully a tribute to Bernie), the sheriff, Andi Ferris, pours over files trying to sort out a hit and run. Her deputy, Daryl, brings her some coffee. She knows the Kinkades could help, but those hillbillies aren’t talking. In the cell, a man named Bunt tells them that “vengeance is coming for whoever hurt them kids.”

    Outside of town a skinhead named Clayton is being held by an older bearded man named Reese. Clayton’s father tasked Reese with keeping the younger man safe until he could show up and retrieve him, and that’s what Reese is going to do. Miles away in Black Ridge, an old hag wanders outside in the night with a bucket of eyeballs and guts at her side. We learn that this is Haggis, years later, and that she’s willing to help Earnest Kinkade and his grandchildren too. They bring two bodies wrapped in cloth into her home – the same bodies, we can assume, that were the victims of the hit and run. Earnest wants vengeance and he’s come to Haggis to get it.

    Cullen Bunn’s got a knack for writing horror stories that take place in small towns in the Deep South. Harrow County is a perfect example of that, it’s one of the consistently best books out there and he does a great job with it. Whether or not he’ll be able to work the same dark magic on Pumpkinhead remains to be seen but we are, at the very least, off to a good start. Bunn’s story pays homage to the hillbilly backwoods horror that made the first movie so effective (we’ll leave the sequels more or less out of this). There’s good atmosphere here, interesting characters, and plot threads that we can assume will tie into something bigger, scarier and more interesting as the story expands. There’s a fair bit of mystery here yet to be exposed, never a bad thing mind you, but Bunn seems nicely tuned in to what makes Pumpkinhead interesting. We’re right to have faith in him here.

    The artwork from Blacky Shepherd, colored by Thiago Ribeiro, is quite detailed. It illustrates the story well, creating some atmospheric environments for things to play off of and creating interesting looking characters to inhabit this world. Little nods to comics past – Wrightson Mills, Golden St. Adams Ave – allude to a seventies influence. Not a bad thing. The book looks good, and it’ll be interesting to see in future issues how the titular creature is handled (we’re not going to spoilt the last few issues here, sorry).

    There’s also an interesting two page backup story in here called Gluttony, written by Bunn and illustrated by Kyle Strahm. And on top of that? The cover art by Kelly Jones is excellent.