In Review: Pumpkinhead #3

Pumpkinhead is attacked by his own kin in this middle installment.

The covers: Four covers to find for this third issue. If you don’t find them all, I know someone who can help you seek vengeance…The A cover is by Kyle Strahm with color by Greg Smallwood. This features a giant Pumpkinhead head, neck, and hands with its maw open to allow a white haired woman to enter. The art looks really sketchy, like it was cranked out in a hurry. The colors are okay, but they don’t have much to work with. Better is the B cover by Blacky Shepherd with color by Marie Enger. This is a close-up of an open book on a table with small candles above and below it. Oh wait, there’s also a human skull by the book, a knife holding the book’s place, and the text is written in an ancient, arcane language accompanied by disturbing pictures. This is the one your mother shouldn’t catch you reading and I love it! The first Exclusive cover is the C which is a B&W version of the A cover. This is not for me: it looks like it was done in ten minutes. This shows me that Smallwood did a lot of the lifting on the A cover. The D is also a B&W Exclusive cover, being the colorless version of the B. This is much more to my liking, showing that Shepherd did a lot on this cover. Overall grades: A C-, B A, C F, and D A-

The story: Following a tip from town drunk Bunt, Sheriff Andi Ferris and Deputy Daryl are driving to the Kinkades’ home in the woods to see if they’ve had a hand in the massacre that occurred at the Bellworth place. Daryl thinks they should just let things play out, but the sheriff can’t do that. Turning to the backseat, Ferris asks Bunt if he believes the Kinkades are behind all the violence. He says, “I can’t say for sure, sheriff, but I’ve seen this before. A kid gets hurt…and folks start ending up butchered like prize hogs…I’d say it’s more likely than not they called up Pumpkinhead.” Leaving Bunt in the car, the officers go to the large home, but are told that the head of the family doesn’t want to talk to them. That’s when a pained scream comes from within. Cullen Bunn is not going for subtle in his expanding of the Pumpkinhead universe. While the sheriff learns “Tonight, it begins again,” Clayton Reese, Lucas Bellworth, and Bedelia Bellworth are trying to seek shelter to survive another night of Pumpkinhead’s attacks on Reese. Just as it seems the demon will kill them, the other demons raised begin to attack it, leading to some monster on monster action. The justification for why the demons are out for Pumpkinhead is justified and the reader’s enjoyment of this issue will depend on their believing it. I thought it was fine; I’m a fan of monsters battling one another, so this worked for me. Danger isn’t only after Reese, as those at the Kinkades’ residence have their own demonic dangers. I expected trouble to occur there, but I wasn’t expecting the troubles shown on the final two pages with another character in a pickle of her own. This was an enjoyable read, but not as horrific as the previous two issues. Overall grade: B+

The art: Blacky Shepherd’s art on this issue is somewhat inconsistent. The first two pages are great, which is quite an accomplishment considering they’re set in a moving car. Shepherd is limited in what can be done, but moves the point of view around enough for the reader to make the scene interesting. The smile in the first panel on Page 2 tells much to the reader without any text. The first odd moment comes in the final panel on 3: Andi’s hand that is knocking on the door is really small. This happens a few times in this book: hands are really tiny. However, 4 looks great — check out all the crosshatching done to darken the background. I love that! Page 5 has an unnamed Kinkade family member on the far right who’s got his hand done in a way that reminds me of Steve Ditko. There’s nothing wrong with this, just made me think of Ditko. The third panel shows Andi opening another door and in addition to her hand shrinking again, she looks like she’s aged about ten years. The move to Reese and the Belloworths is good, with the exterior and interiors solid. I love the close-up on Reese and the silhouette in the final panel. Pumpkinhead and his (its?) fellow demons look terrific. This is what the reader wants to see done well and Shepherd does not ever disappoint with these characters. Page 11 returns to the Kinkades’ place and now the patriarch of the family has a giant head and a tiny body for his two panels. The character shrinks further on 12. The visuals improve tremendously on 13 – 14, with everyone now in jeopardy. Shepherd really shines on the character shown on the last two pages: this individual is an absolute fright, rivaling Pumpkinhead. Consistency in the visuals would have made this a better reading experience. Overall grade: B-

The colors: Arancia Studio colors this book and they do a good job. The majority of this book is set at night, ’cause that’s when Pumpkinhead strikes! I’m always worried about books set in the evening because some colorists make the panels so dark the art can’t be seen. Arancia Studio creates the night with different shades of blues, allowing every element of the art to be clearly seen. I knew this book would be colored well just from the first page: the characters stand out in natural daylight hues while all else around them is in a dark, intense blue. The final panel on 5 has got some great coloring on a character’s eyes to show that it is beginning again. Pumpkinhead is a particularly well colored character, with plenty of work done on its face and body to show its muscles and curves. The same can also be said of the other demons. A different color is also assigned to each demon’s roars and bellows to identify the source to the reader. I particularly like the violets used to color a character on the final page to make the individual otherworldly. Overall grade: A

The letters: Troy Peteri is responsible for this issue’s dialogue, sounds, yells, and the tease for next issue. The yells are easy to tell from the dialogue, with them being a larger and thicker font, and both are easily read. The sounds are the real show stoppers in this issue, with gunshots, creaky things, and lots of demon noises. The demon noises are outstanding. They match the creatures making them and are a hoot and a half fun to read aloud. How could you not have a smile on your face going RREEEEAAAAAARRRGH! or BLLLLAAAAARRRGH!? Overall grade: A

Backup story: The two pages of the continuing “Gluttony” story by writer Bunn, artist Kyle Strahm, and letterer Peteri further the uber creepy tale of one demon who’s unleashed and refuses to be put back down. The speed of the story and the black and white visuals make this incredibly fun. Overall grade: A

The final line: Pumpkinhead is attacked by his own kin in this middle installment. The story is fun, though there are fewer horrors for the humans, and the visuals aren’t consistent enough. I’m still enjoying this enough to want to continue reading it. I’m hoping that things become more dire for the humans. Overall grade: B

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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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