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Pulp Corner: Masks #1

Dynamite Entertainment is an interesting comic book company. They have rights to a lot of licensed franchises and movie adaptions giving them access to numerous characters like Voltron, John Carter, Robocop, Buck Rogers, etc. They also have the market cornered on classic pulp creations like The Shadow, The Spider and The Green Hornet and have been responsible for the recent “boom” in pulp. With all of these characters falling under the same umbrella for the first time, Dynamite decided to develop a mini series that would be a first ever crossover for all these major pulp characters. The series is called Masks and the writing is helmed by Chris Roberson and the first issued has interiors painted by Alex Ross. This is a big deal since Alex Ross hasn’t done any interiors for a comic in about 5 or so years. Of course, he’s no stranger to pulp as he does many of the covers for different Dynamite books. For the rest of the series Dennis Calero will be handling the art duties.

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The first issue was released last Wednesday and immediately gets us into the action. Within the first two pages The Green Hornet and Kato meet The Shadow. We learn that the Justice Party has been voted into office in NYC and they are corrupting the law and instituting a fascist type police force. Our heroes seem real hell bent on telling the audience the difference between the law (made by men) and justice (eternal) and how anything made by men has the potential to be corrupted. Therefore, they must operate outside the law to dispense justice. This is honestly is mentioned 4 or 5 times in a 22 page comic. By the end of the issue, we also meet up with The Spider who is one of Pulp’s most bizarre, violent and esoteric “heroes”. His costume design in Masks is based on the old movie serials he was featured in from the late 1930s and not the pulp novels. Seemingly an ancestor to the current Spider series being printed by Dynamite that takes place in present day.

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We know from the cover that at the very least we will be meeting up with Zorro whose alter ego had a small role in the first issue. This to me seems like it will be the real challenge since our other heroes all come from an urban setting (The Shadow and The Spider in NYC and The Green Hornet in Chicago, respectively) and Zorro traditionally is associated with the California countryside. Others have been confirmed with making appearances later on, but we will leave those alone for the time being.

The story itself was inspired by a 3 part Spider story that’s since been collected into one book called The Spider Vs. The Empire State where The Spider takes on the corruption of the Justice Party. These type of comics also suit Alex Ross’ style perfectly. He seems most at home doing period comics focusing on the 30s and 40s and weaving in all his subtle nuisances. It’s been said many times, but his work is nothing short of astounding.

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It’s hard to say if I recommend this first issue. Obviously anyone who is a fan of Alex Ross or hyper realistic art would be foolish not to pick it up. Story wise, since it’s the set up of a much larger arc not much happens or develops by the end. Hopefully the story will pick up with later issues, but honestly for me it’s the spectacle of all these heroes being in one place at one time working together. I wrote an article detailing the link between pulp novels and comic books, this is a chance to see those forerunners to superheroes create the first vigilante team.

Check back often as the Evil Geeks keep you in the loop for all things pulp related!

All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners

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About Biff Tannen

Film Noir, Pulp, Comic Books and Hitchcock.

Posted on December 2, 2012, in COMICS!, Features, Pulp Corner, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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