Story: Cullen Bunn
Art: Eman Casallos
What They Say:
The machinations of the Red Death have scattered the masked heroes of three eras into the time stream. Now, wildly altered versions of the heroes have reunited for one last campaign to defeat the Red Death and save all of reality.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Though I was quite frustrated early on with this series due to its taking place at different periods of time and no real clear way of the why of it, it’s definitely grown on me more and more as it has revealed itself. Though the story itself is straightforward and doesn’t really stand out in a big way, it’s been a treat to read simply to see the various incarnations of characters from the adaptations done over the years. Casallos really has gone all out with a big cast of characters here and he handles it incredibly well, giving each page and panel plenty of space for those that are important to the moment but also ensuring that others are included as well even just as background to it. The result is that it feels like a sprawling team mission here and that adds to the overall atmosphere of the book.
With the penultimate chapter of the series now here, we get to that point where everything gets figured out and the final plan is put together to fix everything and get back to where it all was before. That’s no surprise, but it works well to give the cast a chance to go over the why of everything and what they need to do. In particular, having one of the Red Spider’s going about with his time machine and having to deal with another Red Spider about it makes for some good humor, which is all done as we learn more of how the Red Death has bent and twisted time more and more, which is resulting in the chaos that we’re seeing now. Chaos that means time is stretched in places, where when they separate for a few minutes it can be like years to those left behind. Or we get some characters that are radically changed, such as Green Hornet actually being a giant green hornet. The re-adaptation aspect is like a giant What If? installment and that lets Casallos really enjoy some creativity here.
Naturally, the smart side of the group figures that the best way to deal with the Red Death is to stop Annabelle from becoming her. That has a mild moral issue of whether to kill her before she does anything in the past, but the truth is that this was all set into motion before she was born, which allows them a little more leeway. It’s a nice bit of moral material to deal with all while talking about the need for everyone to be present less they get stuck in the form that they’re in now. And nobody wants a cyborg-Shadow running around out there. This is the standard pulling together of the disparate groups that have been separated for a bit, but it works well because we get to see how time has changed them across the chaos and there’s a lot to like with simple pleasures like that here.
Though I’ve had mixed feelings about this Masks series overall, there are a lot of areas that I enjoy. It’s basically a kind of classic Secret Wars style team-up with different time periods working together that are thrown to other periods of time while trying to figure it all out. It’s a giant, sprawling, mishmash of stuff all around the central idea of stopping the Read Death organization. And that’s fine because it works and has a lot of appeal to see the pulp characters of different eras interact with each other and themselves. Casallos definitely steals the show here with his designs and ability to hold it all together while also coming up with some very fun and silly new designs towards the end here as time bends more. But the core of the story doesn’t challenge all that much and makes me wish it was a couple of issues shorter and tighter.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: October 7th, 2015