Two stories involving puppets this week, one in the colloquial sense and one in the literal sense.
Heroes For Hire #5
Its the final showdown between Misty Knight and the Puppet Master, and he's brought out the big guns in his defense, in the person of the Punisher! And as is that isn't enough, when Paladin and Iron Fist investigate, they're met with the Black Widow, Falcon and Moon Knight, all under the control of the Puppet Master. Its two running fights until Misty manages to free the controlled heroes, but once that is done, the question of who was pulling the Puppet Master's strings is left unanswered. Certainly the brainwave manipulation technology is a far cry from his usual modus operandi with making statues of radioactive clay. He is even seen talking with someone he takes orders from. But who is that? He's not talking, placed in a coma from a bullet from the Punisher.
The technology involved suggests a number of people or organizations, all with advanced techonology. For the past few weeks, Misty was contacting and directing a number of heroes using a sophisticated radio system. Now we learn that the radio devices have another purpose: to record the brainwave patters of any one who wore them and through the Puppet Master's technology, mentally manipulate them. Unfortunately for him, the one person he should have controlled was Misty, because she's the one who managed to free the controlled heroes.
While Misty is free and wanting to get back into the hero business, she still has that question to answer, and Paladin wants to know if she's for hire to answer that question. Misty's answer is to ask Paladin the same quesiton.
Zatanna is now in the form of a marionette, the result of Oscar Hemple's use of a number of mystical artifacts and his desire to break the curse Zatanna's father placed on him, returning him to human and turning the curse back on Zatanna. As a marionette, she dances on her strings to his command, until she finally manages to use her magic to restore her mind if not her body. She needs someone who can also pull her strings to help her out to make that a reality.
With all of her friends and associates, such as her cousin Zachary or any number of other heroes both supernatural and otherwise, it is her friend and stage manager Mikey who realizes she was missing and notices her performing on television, then tracks her and Oscar down. With Mikey's assistance, Zatanna manages to at least become independent of her strings, although she's still a marionette. That's when Oscar decides to finish the transformation, and add Mikey to his cast of marionettes.
And that is the very last thing he should have tried, as Mikey tried to tell him, as she has a magical defense of her own (a "blessing" Zatanna calls it, a very handy thing for someone who is the friend of a major-league magical superhero) that turns his curse back on him, making him the marionette again, while breaking the curse on Zatanna. After that, its a simple matter for Zatanna to capture Oscar, and, at the same time, get over her fear of puppets.
But at the end, another puppet master might have appeared. Brother Night is back, after being defeated by Zatanna and forced to renounce his Hellish pact. The question is, what is his source of power, and who's pulling his strings? Hell is not likely to give a minor-league loser like Brother Night a second chance, but his empty body could be a welcome home for any number of mystical entities.