Your good buddy RU was sent an advance copy of Pinocchio Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater, how cool is that? Well, read on to find out.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer Volume 2: The Great Puppet Theater
Written by Van Jensen and Dustin Higgins with art by Dusty Higgins
176 pages, black and white $14.95
In stores on November 9th, 2010
The main problem I have with the current vampire craze in pop culture isn't the wimpification of the vampire or even the watered down mythos used by many creators, rather my main complaint is that with the oversaturated market, genuine unique ideas are overlooked or ignored. That is my fear for Pinocchio Vampire Slayer by Van Jensen and Dusty Higgins. Whether it's in a comic book shop or in an online forum, when people bring up PVS the primary responses are either "great, more vampires" or "Pinocchio is not a vampire slayer! Way to ruin another childhood memory." Although I cannot do anything but recommended this vampire story to counteract the first comment I do feel that before we get into this review of Pinocchio Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater (PVS vol. 2) a need to clarify the second. The Pinocchio in PVS is not your childhood Pinocchio that is unless you read Carlo Collodi's original story when you were 12. Unlike the Disney version, Collodi's Pinocchio never became a real boy, the cricket is a ghost, and Pinocchio was lynched by the Fox and Cat, only to be saved by the Blue Fairy. There are many other differences, which are explained in the introductions to both books, but the main point I am making here is that the backside of everyone's childhood is safe.
Pinocchio Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater opens a couple of months after the end of the first book with Pinocchio's love interest, Carlotta, having tracked Pinocchio, Blue, Master Cherry, and the cricket ghost to Rome. The heroes are fighting through vampires trying to locate the ever elusive "Master" whom all the villains, even non-vampires like Fox and Cat, work for. While looking for Pinocchio, Carlotta finds the surviving members of the Great Puppet Theater (Collodi, 1881) who are also in town tracking down Pinocchio. These other living puppets have also been hunting vampires ever since their troop was attacked and their master, Fire-Eater, was killed. During the attack they discovered that it was the wood that they, and Pinocchio, are made from that destroy vampires, not just Pinocchio's nose.
Hilarity and high jinx ensue and for fear of spoiling anything important, I will limit my retelling of the story. The action in PVS2 is similar to that of the previous book - Pinocchio tells lies so his nose can grow into a stake, Bleu and Cherry do what they can with magic and machines, cricket ghost is there for moral and strategic support. The other puppets, without Pinocchio's power of lies, use swords and other weapons made from the same mysterious and magical wood to fight off vampires. Surprises, heartache, and betrayals follow our heroes throughout Italy and the book concludes, unlike vol. 1, with a clear to be continued.
Overall, I very much enjoyed Pinocchio Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater, even more than the first volume. In the time between books, both the writing and artwork became more refined and mature. Where the dialogue and jokes in Pinocchio Vampire Slayer sometimes felt rough and forced, in this new book all the characters have a much better sense of self, character, and timing. Pinocchio's lies create situations for great humor at his enemies' expense and in PVS2 both Pinocchio and his jokes grew up. Finally, this book, although not for all-ages, finds a way to make vampire violence real but not gory. The monsters are actual monsters, but the writing and the art tell a story that would be appropriate for anyone over the age of 10.
Speaking of Dusty Higgins's art, as much as I liked what he was able to do with black and white in the original, the detail and smoothness of the second volume is a vast improvement. Just comparing Carlotta now vs. Carlotta then shows the time and effort Higgins put into making sure that he is always improving. Furthermore, I was very impressed with how the creators were able to make a vol. 2 that did not require a reader to have read the first book. Much like the introduction to Pinocchio Vampire Slayer introduced people to Collodi's story, Pinocchio Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater's introduction told us what we needed from the first book.
There were some problems with this book; first of all I was hoping that in this book we'd get a more in depth look into Pinocchio's curse, into what makes a lie a lie. In the first volume there were lies that he told that he could not know were lies, situations where metaphors were considered lies, and statements that contradicted the truth everyone knew, like his feelings for Carlotta, resulted in no consequence. In PVS2 there is a scene where his nose seems to be able to tell the future and counts something as a lie before it can be shown to be one. I hope that by the end of this trilogy explored further.
My second complaint would be that there were almost too many coincidences in PVS2. One more "oh, wow, you're here too" or "I wonder...look some new person with possible answers to the question I just asked" would have pulled me out of the story. I understand how tools like this can help move a story along, but they can be over used, and that line was almost crossed here.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a new, enjoyable, fun book, if you are at a point where you are burnt out on comic books or just need something unique outside of the capes genre, Pinocchio Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater is what you are looking for. This is a great story at a great value, 176 black and white pages in a digest size all for $14.95.
Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer Volume 2: The Great Puppet Theater will be available in Paperback on Nov. 9, 2010.
Review by: Chip Chipeprson