Friday, December 21, 2012


Mask #1.  Cover by Francesco Francavilla
One of my favorite new series is Masks from Dynamite Entertainment. Once again Dynamite shows that they are the masters of reviving and reinventing Golden Age and classic Pulp characters. I loved just about all of the Project Superpowers books as well as their take on The Spider and Masks is must more of that kind of fun. Written by Chris Roberson, issue one is painted by Alex Ross, issue two has art by Dennis Calero. Masks gathers together some of pulp’s greatest heroes including The Shadow, The Spider, The Green Hornet and Kato, Miss Fury, Green Lama, Zorro and the Black Bat (and this is just who we’ve seen so far!). The story takes place in the late 30s in New York. A new political party has taken over key state government positions under the guise of the “Justice Party” by promising voters that the “freeloaders, the slackers, the aliens and outsiders who want what we have--their day in the sun is over”. A fascist, well armored police force made up of former hoods and murderers rob criminals on a whim. The poor are prosecuted, jailed and executed as are any who speak out against the newly elected state government.

A sample of Alex Ross' painted interior art from Masks #1
In issue one of Masks, The Green Hornet and Kato are unaware of exactly how deep this corruption runs but they learn pretty quick as Kato watches the police unjustly arrest a young artist named Rafael Vega. The Shadow knows exactly what‘s going on and he‘s determined to exact all the justice he can get. Also on hand to help is The Spider. The issue ends with the odds stacked firmly against our heroes. In issue two we see The Shadow, Green Hornet and Kato and The Spider forced to retreat and regroup while in another part of the city, Miss Fury, Green Lama and Black Bat join the fray to try to save innocent civilians from a fascist police force out to “collect taxes.”

Masks #2.  Cover by Jae Lee
Issue one is painted by Alex Ross so it goes without saying that it looks beautiful. The story starts quickly, throwing us into the action immediately and with abandon as we almost immediately see a confrontation between the Shadow and the Green Hornet. It’s a fast paced story with lots of pulpy goodness.

A sample of Dennis Calero's interior art from Masks #2
Writer Chris Roberson seems to really know these characters and it’s clear that he’s having a ball writing them and that joy is infectious. Issue two has Dennis Calero on art. I’ve never heard of Mr. Calero before reading Masks and I was very impressed by his art in issue two. It’s larger than life, lush, full of rich detail and bold splash pages and close ups that have a great intensity. Roberson keeps the pacing taut and consistent, making both issue just really fun to read.  If, like me, you enjoy seeing these 30s pulp characters revived and brought to the page in style, then I recommend getting Masks 1 & 2.

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