Story: Cullen Bunn
Art: Eman Casallos
What They Say:
Heroes from across time meet, the bizarre origins of the Red Death are revealed, and an insidious trap springs shut. A dangerous adventure unlike anything you might expect awaits as the masked vigilantes of three different eras! The epic team-up of The Shadow, Black Terror, Miss Fury, Peter Cannon, Green Hornet, The Spider, and more continues, courtesy of Deadpool writer Cullen Bunn.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Masks had some interesting first couple of issues, but ones where it took some time for the reader to adjust to what was going on as it leapt through time to three different periods, showing us different Red Death incarnations and what the vast and seemingly endless organization was up to. In a way, it was classic old school evil organization stuff, but the end of the third installment started to change the view of things as we got these characters from different times brought together into one place to talk about the threat of Red Death and what she represents. That helped to finally bind things together and give it all a reason, though one that took some time to get there.
With this installment, it’s basically a whole lot of exposition. A good chunk of it really does delve into the past three issues and the fights that happened there as the Red Spider explains how each of them encountered the organization and, in their own way, dealt with the woman behind it all. That it keeps coming to life isn’t a surprise, as evil organizations do, but revealing that it’s the same woman that’s leaping through time, sometimes in control and sometimes not, adds a new wrinkle to it. Making it clear to each of them that they’ve faced the same person in their own time periods is certainly surprising to them, though discovering that the Red Spider is the cause of it, having built a time machine for humanity’s betterment only to have it stolen, adds a whole other wrinkle.
The book does spend some time on fun things along the way, particularly in the generational aspect of things. It’s fun seeing the second generation that was inspired by the predecessors they never met comparing notes and having fun with it, since they’re seemingly mostly of similar age as well, so there isn’t a mentor/student aspect to it. The little bits about the why, the gadgets and even costuming is a fun little treat. But I also really, really liked that while they delve into this for a few panels, we also get the others that have no follow-ups standing off to the side, quietly observing it, and saying so much by saying absolutely nothing until it moves on. And considering the general popularity of some of them, it’s saying quite a lot that there was no second generation version.
The second Masks series continues to be one that’s not an easy read in some ways, but is starting to come together more here at the halfway mark, and with a bang at the end too that deals with time travel in a fun way. This issue is heavy on the exposition and pretty much serves as an infodump, but considering it’s bringing a range of characters together from across time, it has to take the effort to explain it all. And honestly, I prefer it done in this form rather than amid a fight where it’s chaotic and it doesn’t feel “realistic” or as though the information is relayed in a good way. There’s some fun little moments here and I do love the simplicity of the cliffhanger ending as it really drives home part of the fun of time travel.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: July 1st, 2015