The Return of The Big Giant Pumpkin Headed Man was the second installment in our Pumpkin Man Sub-Saga (which from here out I will refer to simply as "Return". This story featured the return of not only the Pumpkin Man, but a throw away joke character from Issue 3, The Badger. The Badger was intended to be an obvious parody of Wolverine and we loved him so much that we decided to bring him back as a reoccurring character. Since we had previously established that our heroes should keep a good distance from Regular Man, this story gave us a good opportunity to feature The Badger and take a look into his origin.
Anyone who saw The Hatman Clause Part 3 will notice that the voice and characterization of The Badger has changed since this comic. In that story we chose to ignore it, but I will state now that the official cannon explanation is that soon after the events of "Return" The Badger reclaimed his former life and over time his previous personality returned as well. The forgetful Badger, while heroic, had been a broken man, afraid of the unknown and chose his words carefully. As his memory returned, so did his confidence, and the wavering higher pitched voice full of fear was replaced with his natural bass tone. (That being said, the truth is, we just got a different voice actor and he decided to take the character in a different place. We were intrigued with this new take on the character and changed him slightly to reflect this.)
Back to the recap of "Return." The story opens sometime after the events of the first Pumpkin story. Regular Man and Farmer Bill (quickly joined by The Badger) barricade the door of Farmer Bill's barn because it houses the infamous pumpkin. Keeping him locked away from the farmer should ensure that the pumpkin will not regain his full power. Farmer Bill grows forgetful and confused, so the Badger and Regular Man encourage him to go inside while they finish up. A newscast explains that the Terrible Trio are engaged in some sort of crime, so Regular Man and The Badger decide to take care of it. Before they can, the barn bursts open knocking Regular Man unconscious. The Badger, weak minded at this point in his life, is drawn in by the power of the pumpkin. The effects wear off soon and The Badger leaves to get help. Farmer Bill hearing the commotion finds his son lying on the lawn and through suggestion of the Pumpkin, thinks the pumpkin power will give him the strength to save his son. He approaches the barn and becomes the fully formed Big Giant Pumpkin Headed Man once again.
The Badger flees to Hatman & Indigo's to warn them of their returned villain but his forgetfulness strikes and he can't remember why he came. Indigo wishes that the Badger's memory problems would be over and we are treated to a flashback of The Badger's origin at the hands of some aliens. After the flashback, Pumpkin Man breaks in and kidnaps Indigo.
Happy to be excluded from a kidnapping this time, Blonde joins Hatman and The Badger to help defeat Pumpkin Man and free Indigo. Because the Pumpkin has telepathic power of suggestion over narrators, he can control Hatman and Indigo (who both filled in for the Narrator while on vacation in the previous Pumpkin story). We also learn that the Pumpkin not only has the power to levitate things but can control the growth of pumpkin vines as he captures all the heroes one by one, mummifying them with vines, with the exception of Regular Man whom he decides to ship away in a wooden crate. Blonde is left to face the orange menace alone, which she does heroically, by spraying him with a heavy dose of the farmer's pest poison. This causes him to melt into a pile of goo as the vines recede and our heroes are freed. Hatman frees Regular Man as the group discovers that the toxin did not defeat the pumpkin, but mutate him. He now no longer needs Farmer Bill as a host body (he's formed a body of vines and his gooey head resembles it's former shape) and Regular Man's power doesn't defeat him. The Badger does however destroy him with the help of Indigo creating the "field goal" our homage to the "fastball special" featured in X-Men comics when Colossus throws Wolverine. Hatman wishes the defeated goo to be trapped in an inescapable box and all is well.
As with the first installment, while I re-watched this story, I thought that it was a step up from the first. Steve's art had noticeably improved (with the exception of his take on Blonde for part 1) and the storytelling was tighter. The addition of a few more panels and some extra Narrator duologue would have helped, but all in all, it is entertaining. As with many of our stories, this could be a lot funnier. The funny is more in concept than in blatant jokes, and this is something we struggle with constantly, trying to find a good level of both action and comedy.
What will happen next? Well, you only have to wait a few more hours! Issue 44, part one of the third installment (confusing, I know) in the Pumpkin sub-saga will post at Midnight Eastern Time tonight!