In Review: Pumpkinhead #2

I'd applaud the creators of this book, but I'm afraid it would draw Pumpkinhead's attention.

The covers: A foursome to track down as if you’re cursed to do so. The A cover is by Kyle Strahm. This has Pumpkinhead in profile, crouched atop a gourd he’s named after. The monster looks great. This stands out not only because of the great art, but the colors are fantastic. The colors are different shades of orange and violet. I never though I would use the word beautiful to describe a Pumpkinhead cover, but this most certainly is. The B cover is by interior artist Blacky Shepherd. Before some blue flame, Pumpkinhead walks. The creature is emerging from a large image of Haggis’s head. She is the witch that summoned the creature in the first issue of this series. The monster looks great, Haggis is appropriately creepy, and the coloring is sensational. Good luck trying to choose between the A and B covers. There’s also a B&W Incentive Variant cover, the C, which is the A cover without colors. I like this, but I prefer the colored version. And this comment holds true for the final cover, the D, which is the B&W Incentive Variant. This is the B cover sans colors. Overall grades: A A, B A, C B+, and D A-

The story: At the Kinkades’ cabin their father laments and writhes clutching a table proclaiming, “N-Never! I have never expected this! Oh…My God! My God! What have I done? I can see it! My God, I can see it!” One of his sons moves to comfort him. The son says that they can go back to the witch’s cabin to end this. The father raises his head to reveal eyes with no pupils. “Don’t! Don’t you dare!” the man says, sweat pouring off his forehead. “I want to see it!” With a turn of the page, writer Cullen Bunn shows the reader what the patriarch sees: the vengeance demon Pumpkinhead has its massive foot on a man’s back. The man begs for mercy, though the creature ignores his pleas, instead grabbing the man’s head and squishing it. The creature turns to see four armed men and a dog appear. They fire upon the creature and the dog leaps and grabs its arm. Inside the house, drug dealer Clayton Reese looks out the window into darkness. He believes the four men have killed the man sent to kill him. Bedelia Bellworth tells him she wouldn’t be so sure. That’s when the dead dog is thrown through the window. Clayton has no time to react as Pumpkinhead crawls through the window to kill him. Lucas Bellworth yells at Clayton to move and the three make a run for it, but not before Bedelia says something surprising. There’s a really cool three page chase that transitions back to Sheriff Andi Ferris and her deputy trying to track down the dealer that’s bringing drugs into their county. This leads her and deputy to come upon a scene of carnage that takes them one step closer to discovering the horror that’s been loosed. This is familiar territory for fans of the monster’s cinematic adventures and it’s fun, but Bunn really outdoes himself by adding to the mythos. Clayton and the Bellworths go to an individual’s house who adds considerably more to the saga. The final three pages are the major moment of the book, with several characters doing something amazing that will definitely send this series spinning into a wild new direction. Next issue is going to be a MUST READ! Overall grade: A

The art: Without question, Blacky Shepherd is the right artist for this book. The first page shows him able to create a threatening tone with panels that progressively build the tension. It begins with horses in a stable upset, it moves to show the barn and the log cabin of the Kinkades, moving inside to show the young, thin children looking at something that bothers them. The men surround their father, whose face is hidden from the reader. One son gently grabs his father’s arm, and then the father raises his head to reveal the creepy visage of a man possessed and enjoying the hell only he can see. It’s a spooky image, but Shepherd gets to really go out all with the frights by showing the title character about to kill a man. The death of the thug in the final panel is explicit and absolute perfection! Page 3 has Pumpkinhead looking as though he’ll go down, given the bullets going into him and the canine hanging off its arm. The design of the Bellworths is perfect deep woods trash, with their hair and clothing enough to make anyone turn the other way. Clayton is the perfect wannabe gangster who’s completely over his head in supernatural justice. Look at Bedelia’s close-up on 5; there’s practically joy on her face as she looks upon the demon. The action on 7 and 8 is cool, with a lot of movement captured well. The character on 12 is also designed well, similar enough to a character shown last issue, but different enough to make her stand apart. The way this character is rendered on 13 will make one think of The Walking Dead. Pages 18 and 19 have a great setting, with the characters also looking impressive. The final page is the jaw dropper. It’s a full-paged splash that will have the reader wondering what this quintet will do. Mr. Shepherd, you wonderfully create the natural and the unnatural. Overall grade: A

The colors: The colors on this book strongly enhance the visuals. The opening is in the dead of night, but rather than making the exteriors utter ebony, colorist Thiago Ribeiro uses blues to create the night. This allows all the art to be clearly seen, allowing for each horrific moment to be vivid. The final two panels on Page 1 have a deep blue border to remind the reader of the hour even though the panels are set in an interior. The reveal of pa’s face in the final panel has an orange background that is hellish. Pumpkinhead begins the book covered in blood since it killed several people last issue. The death of the goon at the end of 2 is done entirely in crimson. This makes the horror doubly monstrous. When Pumpkinhead is shot, harsh reds surround the beast, showing the reader that this creature is not invulnerable. Ribeiro does a great job with characters’ flesh, shading and toning it well. This is first seen on the trio that the monster is after. There’s a great lighting effect at the end of Page 5 that reminds me of the trippy lightning from the original film. The new character introduced on 12 is especially gaunt looking due to the coloring of her chest. The final three pages have got some sensational eerie work with blues that make the proceedings delightfully demonic. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Troy Peteri is the book’s letterer creating sounds, yells, dialogue, signage, a whisper, and the tease for next issue. The sounds perfectly match the action on the page. Naturally Pumpkinhead’s appearances bring the greatest amount of sounds, with the third page having the greatest variety. The top of Page 16 made me laugh out loud. Though he may not have named these establishments, I’m sure Peteri was happy to dress the businesses with those titles. The tease for next month’s issue is a great way to close to the book. It’s a frightful font reminiscent of classic E.C. horror titles, telling the reader that things are only going to get worse. WooHoo! Overall grade: A

The backup story: The second installment of “Gluttony” written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Kyle Strahm, and lettered by Troy Peteri opens with Mildred facing down a demon and her fate being shown. There’s a turn in the final panel that makes this two-pager as riveting as the first tale. The art is gorgeous in black and white, creating images that are horrific enough without colors. The letters have the narrator using a delightfully deviant font and the one sound is perfection. Overall grade: A

The final line: Sensational surprising supernatural thrills that captures the vengeful spirit of the films and expands upon them in deliriously deviant ways. I’d applaud the creators of this book, but I’m afraid it would draw Pumpkinhead’s attention. You want this book! Overall grade: A

To order a print copy go to https://www.dynamite.com/htmlfiles/viewProduct.html?PRO=C72513026478702011

To order a digital copy go to https://www.dynamite.com/digital/viewProduct.html?PRO=C72513026478702011=1

To see the covers go to my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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