What if puppets went bad is a question that we’ve seen in media a few times, with films like Puppet Master, or the episode of Angel ‘Smile Time’. It’s a fun joke, making the cute, fuzzy Muppet-like creations into actual monsters. But Survival Street asks a different question: what if puppets were the only good guys left?
The first issue of Survival Street begins with an important history lesson, telling readers how the future of the United States was forever changed when corporations were given the same freedoms as people. Soon, the rich and powerful were buying their way into positions of greater power, and the nation found itself in a corporate controlled land of greed and hatred, where only the cruellest can survive.
It’s in this dark future that a small group of puppets have been trying to stay true to their values, and have been making Salutation Street, a show for kids that teaches fair play (yes, it’s basically Sesame Street). However, the show is raided by armed ICE officials, and pulled off the air. So, what’s an out of work puppet who gets treated like a second class citizen going to do? They band together to take on the corrupt and powerful, even if it means blowing some shit up and killing some people along the way.
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The first issue of Survival Street is a ridiculous and delightful introduction to this new story, where these out of work puppets have become a mercenary team who’ve made it their mission to make the world a better place. And they’re not afraid of crossing some lines to do it. This issue sees them infiltrating a swanky celebration where the rich are auctioning off children under the pretence that they’re being given up for adoption; but in reality they’re going to be harvesting their organs. The puppets are determined to save the kids, and go to some extreme lengths to do so.
The world that writers James Asmus and Jim Festante have created here is pretty dark, and kind of believable too (although perhaps not the living puppet part). It’s easy to see our own world sliding further into a capitalist hellscape run by the mega rich, and if it weren’t for the puppets this would be kind of a depressing read. However, because the big action heroes of the book are puppets it ends up being silly and ridiculous in just the right way. The book is a delight to read, and each new twist and turn in the story was delivered with such humour that I couldn’t help but be completely won over come the end.
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The art on the book is provided by Abylay Kussainov and Ellie Wright, and it’s a wonderful amalgam of the realistic and the unbelievable. The humans and the environments look very down-to-earth, but the puppets give it a visual flair and level of fun that makes it jump off the page. The puppets all look wonderful, and their designs instantly make you think about the characters from Sesame Street The book wears its influence on its sleeve, and the art does this wonderful job of marrying together cute and fuzzy puppets and violence in a way that shouldn’t work, but just does.
This might not be the kind of title that grabs your attention straight away because the cover looks kind of weird, and the concept is very strange, but it’s executed in such a way that it becomes a hugely fun read. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what these puppet revolutionaries plan for their next adventure.
Survival Street #1 is out now from Dark Horse.