By Dustin Cabeal
I’m sure when a lot of people heard that MASK was coming to comics they were excited. I mean, it’s one of the few 80s toy franchises/cartoon series, to not having its corpse mangled and rebooted in the modern era. Even setting aside the fact that IDW was in charge of the comic reboot, the first thing everyone should have asked is, “Why’d it take this long?”
Not long ago I was digging through the 80s cartoons that popped up on Hulu and came across Silverhawks and Bravestar. I was particularly excited about Bravestar having loved the series as a child and missing a lot of the social commentary it tried and failed to make. Before even hitting play, I worried that these would be the next two franchise to get a modern makeover… I made it about three minutes into Bravestar before turning it off, even less for Silverhawks. I soon realized that they were just toy lines and nothing more. Their stories were so incredibly dated that even nostalgia couldn’t power me through an entire episode. If someone does attempt to bring them into the modern era, I have no doubt that it’ll end up something like MASK #1… terrible.
The worst possible thing about MASK is the fact that it’s tied into Transformers and the rest. Robots that transform into cars instantly makes cars that can transform into other vehicles not very interesting. I hate to say it, but looking back there were just cheap Transformers without the robot bits.
The next terrible thing about it is the story. There’s nothing but exposition. There’s a lot of backstory all of the sudden; I’m assuming most of it is spilling out from the one-shot that tied into Revolution and then is recapped throughout this entire issue. I wondered why they did a one-shot of a series that hadn’t launched. The result is a first issue that feels like a second issue but is as convoluted as a first issue.
There’s no character development. All of the “characters” are one-dimensional, and half of them aren’t even introduced in a comprehensive way. Also, I’m pretty sure you could beat the bad guy with an offer of a free sandwich or some candy in a baby’s hands. There was at least an attempt to modernize the rest of the story, but the bad guy is purely 80s which would have been fine if he didn’t feel out of place.
The Masks in MASK are well drawn and cool looking, considering that was the meh part of the toys, that’s a step up. The vehicles range from good to “why does that look off?” For instance, the trademark red Camaro looking car, the one that’s on all the covers, looks different inside. It has curves, a different paint job and it’s enough to kill any excitement about the vehicles from that point out. I could understand if it was a “we’re worried about being sued” type thing, but it’s a comic book, and you have it on all the covers. Clearly, the artist can illustrate cars and crap which is a must for the title, but if they’re going to do these weird versions, count me out.
Really you can count me out now. I gave it one. It’s IDW, it’s rare that they meet my expectations of storytelling and I don’t know if that’s because of the creators, the editors, the Hasbro overlords or the simple fact that their audience gobbles this shit up, and so they have no reason to appeal to me when the money is, in fact, rolling in. Just imagine if it did appeal to readers like me, though? How much more money would roll in? How much untapped money is out there, that’s kept away by the average art and aimless storytelling? Who knows, but it’s safe to assume that I’ll be adding MASK to my list of Hasbro/IDW titles that I don’t read.
Writer: Brandon Easton
Artist: Tony Vargas
Publisher: IDW Publishin