This week seen the end of the Dynamite Entertainments mini series Masks as issue 8 hit shelves. The series written by Chris Roberson and drawn by former Marvel Noir artist Dennis Calero minus the inaugural issue which was drawn Alex Ross, There are also the plethora of variant covers by various artist. So the how was it then?…
A rough synopsis would be that a number of pulp heroes (which Dynamite is really excelling at bringing back to vogue at the moment) have to band together after a dictator takes control as governor of New York exerting control and ultimately leading to injustice hence our heroes forming a group. But who were these heroes?, Well there were your crowd pleasers like Green Hornet, Kato, The Shadow and Zorro, There was also lesser known heroes such as The Spider, Miss Fury, Black Terror, Green Lama and Black Bat. A mixed bunch indeed, In many ways you may think incompatible just take Zorro for example we all know he was many years before any of these characters donned a Mask and also being for outside of New York’s state borders but they resolve this well which I will get to.
So lets look at the story, In the time it has taking Masks to unfold we have seen the end of crossovers elsewhere with Avenger Vs. X-Men and Age of Ultron those had mixed responses especially in regards to their climaxes. It works better than those yet the ending was the main part of it that could be faulted. You see in issue 7 (second last) we had learned what the plot was driving at; Who the secretive boss of the Justice Party which has it’s grip on New York and what his plan is this meant that the last issue was essentially just the team beating the villain who turned out to be a former hero himself this made me feel that little had to be resolved in the final issue. There is also the question of is the villain even a villain?, as mentioned he was a hero who seizes power to cut down on crime and this isn’t debated very much among the characters who dispatch him quickly for being ‘mad’.
But as a whole the story worked really well, drawing the team together over issues in the run and Roberson has excelled at crafting a believable world in which these characters share for example Zorro appears but in this version it is instead someone who has grown up with the legend of Zorro as one of Don Diego Del La Vega’s or where Britt Reid socializes alongside Lamont Cranston, Roberson has really excelled at distilling who these characters are without you needing to be well versed in them which in a few cases is helpful for me personally I had little clue whocharacters like The Green Lama or Black Bat were. One would hope Dynamite carried this shared universe further as most of the cast have ongoing titles it would be a shame not to use Masks as the catalyst for a sort of Pulp Avengers, But even just as a one off mini series it is a treat.
The art in Masks has been exceptional admittedly one of the things that drew me towards collecting it was buying the first issue because I am a sucker for anything Alex Ross draws which is why I assume he only drew the first issue, That issue was stunning and his style clearly suits the time period of Masks (30’s) but going into the other issues Dennis Calero proved to be the man for the job. He does a good job of making characters in a dark world appear striking, One would assume this is why he had previously worked on the Marvel Noir titles which had a similar tone.
Needless to say Roberson and Calero’s work is now firmly on my radar where as it had slipped past before. I would definitely recommend getting the last few issues while they are still in your local store or waiting till this is collected as a trade because it is a rewarding read and is definitely a good jumping on point to see which of Dynamite Entertainments pulp characters you should follow further.