Before there were comic heroes there were MASKS!

MASKS!

Dynamite Entertainment presents a Dynamite comic!

MASKS is an eight-issue mini-series produced by Dynamite Comics. Written by Chris Roberson, the art is by Alex Ross and Dennis Calero and Simon Bowland. Published in 2013 the story teams up nine masked super-heroes from the Golden Age of heroic fiction.

WHEN THE LAW BECOMES UNJUST – JUSTICE MUST BE SERVED BY OUTLAWS!

Cast:

The Shadow

World War I soldier Kent Allard poses as both Lamont Cranston and The Shadow in a never-ending war on crime. Using skills gained in Asia that includes the ability to cloud men’s minds those who commit evil pay the ultimate price.

The Green Hornet

Newspaper publisher Britt Reid, great nephew of the legendary Lone Ranger, continues his family’s legacy of fighting for justice both with the printed page and with a mask.

Kato

Kato Hayashi is a Japanese American who serves as Britt Reid’s partner, companion, and best friend while posing as his valet and chauffer. His martial arts skills are unsurpassed as are his abilities as a mechanic and engineer.

The Spider

Wealthy man-about-town Richard Wentworth uses his skills learned during the Great War to fight crime as the weirdly attired Spider. Pity those who fall into his web.

El Zorro

Rafael Vega comes from a proud family descended from the legendary Zorro. Unjustly arrested he escapes and taking on the guise of a new Zorro uses the skills taught him by his father to wreck havoc upon those who prey upon the innocent.

The Black Bat

District Attorney Tony Quinn takes a stand against corruption and pays for it with his eyes. Blind as a bat he gains night vision and inspired by an earlier vigilante hero known as The Clock, Tony becomes The Black Bat.

Miss Fury

Wealthy socialite Marla Drake is bequeathed a panther suit once worn by an African shaman. With that suit she gains panther-like powers and uses them in defense of those who cannot fight for themselves.  

The Green Lama

Wealthy Jethro Dumont is an actual lama (Buddhist spiritual teacher) who chose to use the powers gained as a lama and by the use of radioactive salts to fight crime and injustice while still retaining his Buddhist beliefs.

The Black Terror

Pharmacist Bob Benton develops a chemical he calls “formic ethers” that gives him super-strength and an extremely high resistance to injury. He then chooses to use his powers to fight crime.

Margo Lane

Tough, bright, and with a smart mouth she serves as The Shadow’s principle agent and Lamont Cranston’s companion.

The Clock

Frustrated by the law’s seeming inability to correct society’s ills, District Attorney Brian O’Brien dons a mask and fights crime.

In 1938 the corrupt Justice Party takes over New York and turns it into a fascist state. Mobsters become officials and armored, jack-booted stormtrooper policemen are given free rein to imprison, extort, and execute the innocent. Undesirables are placed in concentration camps – and all of it is legal!

“When the law becomes unjust – justice must be served by outlaws!”

One by one the legendary masked vigilantes emerge and unite for the first time in a common cause: law versus justice!

But can the heroes win? Especially when they discover that one of their own kind is the mastermind behind all of this!

  • The Green Lama was originally supposed to be called The Gary Lama but color tests for the cover showed that gray didn’t work so they changed his color to green. Twenty-two years later the same thing happened with The Hulk in Marvel Comics. Originally colored gray it didn’t work in the printing and so after the first issue he was recolored and like with The Green Lama they opted for green as his new color.
  • Some Black Terror stories in the 1940s were written by Patricia Highsmith – author of STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, and THE GLASS CELL – before she became a world-famous novelist.
  • The Clock has the distinction of being the very first masked super-hero to appear in comic books – FUNNY PICTURES STORIES #1 (November 1936).
  • Miss Fury is the first female super-hero written and drawn by a female creator June Tarpe Mills.
  • While Asian countries have had their own super-heroes, Kato is the first Asian super-hero to appear in America. He first appeared in THE GREEN HORNET (radio series) 1936.

Dislikes:

The one and only dislike I have of this mini-series is that it was too short. I hated to see it end. I wanted it to go on and on and on. I would have preferred 12 issues, or 24 issues, or an on-going series. It is that good!

Likes:

Oh my God! I don’t know where to begin.

  • Writing: superb!
  • Characterization: Excellent!
  • Pacing: Awesome!
  • Artwork: Sublime!

Do I sound like I am gushing? You bet your sweet bippy I am.

MASKS is a team-up of several Golden Age (1935-1960) and Platinum Age (1909-1934) pulp heroes, comic strip heroes, and comic book heroes. Basically it gives us a team somewhat like The Justice League or The Avengers – a team made up of individual heroes who have chosen to band together against a common foe. The remarkable thing is that it works and on so many levels. First, it is exceptionally well written. Kudos to Chris Roberson the writer. Not only does he give us a story that is suspenseful, exciting, and well paced but also he has the characters down pat. You believe that the Justice Party is a menace big enough for The Shadow to actually seek help in fighting them. You understand and appreciate the differences between the lethal Shadow and the non-killing Green Hornet. You feel the outrage of the Asian-American Kato and the Mexican-American Zorro. Mister Roberson manages to juggle all of this along with action and adventure and a look at how this could have happened here and now. My hat is off to you Mr. Roberson.

On top of that the painted art for every issue is amazing! The first issue is done by Alex Ross. He continues to leave me gaga with the beauty of his work. This is me with Alex Ross’ work. One, I read it and love it! Then a re-read it because I want to make sure I haven’t missed anything – and sure enough I did. For example, in the restaurant scene I missed the first time that Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane are wearing the same ring. Readers of The Shadow know how important those rings are. It is little details like that that make Alex Ross awesome. Then I read it a third time to savor the magic all over again. And then a few days later I wind up reading it again because I can’t get my mind off it. Need I say I have already read MASKS five times and when I finish writing this I will go back and read it again. It is that good!

I cannot recommend this book enough! It is perfect. For me it is perfect and goes up there with WATCHMEN and KINGDOM COME. Usually I read stuff and often say to myself: I would have done that different or I would have changed this, but not this time. For MASKS I would not change a damn thing!

I am grateful to Dynamite Comics for giving me this comic book feast. Although I am not surprised because to be honest I have loved everything I have read from this company. To varying degrees everything they put out is great and well worth the effort. I recently read an article that called Dynamite Comics the fourth highest comic book company. We know that Marvel and DC are one and two (God only knows why) and assuming that Dark Horse is number three that puts Dynamite in good company. Dark Horse produces amazing stuff. I wish the same could be said about Marvel and DC. Basically I wipe my butt with Marvel and DC. If you want quality comics entertainment – and who doesn’t – then read Dynamite Comics and especially MASKS. You will not be disappointed. 

On our rating scale I give MASKS five Gray Geeks and if I could give it higher I would.

I am sorry to say that is all for this time mi gente. I love spending time with you and I love that you are willing to take time out from your busy schedules to be with me. I appreciate it I really do. Take care of yourselves all of you. It is still not yet over. Despite what anyone may say continue to wear that mask. Be the super-hero you always knew you were. Hasta la vista!

2 thoughts on “Before there were comic heroes there were MASKS!

  1. Hi!

    I’m sorry to do this but I think you’ve made a mistake in saying that the talented Ms Highsmith wrote The Glass Key – she did, it seems, write The Glass Cell – but The Glass Key was a novel written by Dashiell Hammett in 1930 (and adapted since as a film – three times.)

    Not all that long ago, I watched most of The Green Hornet serial from 1940 – there is no doubt that Kato keeps The Hornet flying. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are absolutely right and thank you for bringing that to my attention I will fix it immediately. I really appreciate it and appreciate you taking the time to correct me.
      I’m a big fan of the Green Hornet as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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