We've become accustomed to the traditional story of a superhero by now. Good guy gets powers, good guy learns powers, good guy does good. But that's not who Punk Mambo is. She is no hero. Punk Mambo is a hard-living voodoo priestess and mercenary. Writer Cullen Bunn talked with PREVIEWSworld to discuss his upcoming series Punk Mambo.
Punk Mambo Volume 1 will be available everywhere November 12, 2019.
PREVIEWSworld: The traditional archetype for a superhero is someone who discovers their powers and then feels obligated to do good. But that’s not who Punk Mambo seems to be… What makes her, well, her?
Cullen Bunn: Punk Mambo has a bad attitude. She has a chip on her shoulder and she's antisocial. She doesn't feel obligated to do good. She just wants to be left alone. She is not a hero in any way shape or form. Sometimes, though, she is thrown into that role against her wishes. That's what happens in this series. She doesn't set out to save the day. Instead, she sets out to kick in the teeth of someone who has wronged her.
Doing something heroic along the way, that's just an unintended consequence.
PW: The major theme of this series seems to be “rebellion,” or rather “being punk.” What does that mean? How is that reflected in the series?
CB: This is a story about control. Who has it? Who wants it? Who suffers from it? Magic is all about controlling unknown forces. Voodoo spirits “ride” or control their hosts. Punk Mambo bucks that tradition, of course, and rails against control at every turn. To some degree, she is a bit of a contradiction. She wields magical forces, controls them, but she refuses to let anything or anyone control her in turn.
PW: Mixing punk rock and voodoo looked and read very natural. What’s the common denominator with these two cultures?
CB: In The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal, Leslie Desmangles, a Haitian professor at Hartford's Trinity College, wrote, “Voudon is more than belief; it is a way of life.” It is a collection of beliefs and customs and practices. The same, I think, can be said for punk. It's a way of life. Also, I think both voodoo and punk are greatly misunderstood by the mainstream. In Haiti, voodoo helped inspire revolts that drove the French from the area. Punk Mambo sees that as a very punk thing to do.
PW: You’ve definitely done your homework in the Voodoo department. How much does that lore play into the series?
CB: The lore of voodoo plays a significant role in this story. We're meeting a number of voodoo spirits, or loa. We're digging in deep in Haiti. That said, I don't claim to be an expert in voodoo, and I've taken a very “comic book” approach to it in this book.
PW: Punk Mambo goes on an adventure at the end of the first issue. What can we expect from the rest of the series?
CB: At the end of the first issue, we see that Punk Mambo has had something stolen from her. This doesn't sit well with her and she wants it back. She also wants revenge on the people who dared cross her in the first place. This quest for vengeance will take her to Haiti. There, she will encounter a “pantheon” of powerful voodoo spirits. She'll also run afoul of one of the nastiest loa she has ever encountered. Finally, she'll meet a new player in the Valiant Universe's magical world. This player has a unique connection to magic, one that will cause Punk Mambo some serious trouble...one that could lead to a very dangerous destiny.