Puno : Altiplano Vol. 2

Gustaffo Vargas was a name I became aware of thanks to Thought Bubble waaaaay back in 2019 and reading his first three issues I knew I was going to be back for more…..cue Puno.

This picks up where the Manu issue left off in his 3-part Antiplano arc and after the events of that opening issue we’re dropped right back into the next phase of the Sonia & Canela relationship.  While the mutual feeling they have that time in the city would give them a new sense of perspective and a glimpse at what their lives could be, there are secrets beginning to bubble to the surface that will change everything.  As if that wasn’t enough, the fallout from the events in the jungle have triggered even more interest in Sonia and tracking her down.

That attention starts to influence their choices but with that we see the frustrations around them boil over into cracks that then become chasms that diverts their live in very different directions.  As Sonia is dragged back into a shady past she takes steps that see her back in the underbelly of a world she had hoped to never see again but has caught up with her all over again.  With this extra detail about her past, with the extra risks she’s taking and with this extra layer in the story, it’s going in new directions all the time and building up to some major events that will shape the main players AND whole world that’s been created.

Gustaffo’s Peruvian cyberpunk world building had already gone from strength to strength in his first 3 creations but in the second part of his ongoing story it’s clear that he has the ability to surprise as he hits new heights.  With Puno things get more visceral & definitely take a much darker turn than you could have imagined, but in the context of the story & with the cast he’s created, this eases into the “special” category of releases.  A grim future is playing out for sure but the human elements cover a spectrum of light & dark character traits that grab the attention and never let you go.

That’s then given a further injection of raw energy in art that never flinches from what’s playing out across the pages with it’s energy-filled style and vibrant colours that breathe life into the whole thing.  There is a lot of reading in this too and while that may veer into a word-heavy area for some, it feels like the lettering keeps things in check and allows a complex world to be given the foundation & detail that it needs to pack a significant punch.

Over the top in places but Gustaffo’s attention to detail in story along with the art, colouring & lettering all pulling their weight makes sure that you’re left gripped in a story that’s got diversity seeped into the very ink that it’s created with, without it feeling too forced.  It’s a beautiful yet brutal world on offer and when it’s brought together with this much conviction it’s hard not to be moved, amazed, shocked & entertained……roll on the final part of this arc…..and then whatever else Gustaffo has in mind because I’m here as a fan to read every single page.

You can get hold of this (plus all his other titles & more) on the campaign link for the final part of this arc:

Pilcuyo Kickstarter

You can also keep up to date with what else Gustaffo is working on over on his Website as well as on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.  He has all his titles and some original art available over on his online store too.

9/10

G-Man

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