Story: Cullen Bunn
Art: Eman Casallos
What They Say:
The masked heroes have been cast through time and twisted into strange versions of themselves. Now, they make one last attempt to set things right… without damaging the time stream any more than they already have. The final confrontation with the Red Death will lead to the emergence of a new masked hero!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Though I hadn’t read the first Masks series, getting into this one wasn’t too much trouble overall since it was the coming together of a wide range of heroes from different eras. Facing a large threat that could change everything, it took some time to really connect the dots to figure out what was going on and then embraced it wholly. The back half of the series has mostly worked better for me than the first, which feels somewhat unusual. With the finale here, there’s a lot of action, some rather amusing moments along the way and a generally nice epilogue that brings it all together. I can easily imagine this making for a very entertaining read in collected form.
After leaping about time in different groups dealing with the Red Death and the traps that have been laid down by her, the team has finally figured out the best thing to do. And that’s to head back to 252 BC in order to stop the cult itself from coming into existence. This is actually a pretty fun sequence of events overall as there are three parties going in different areas to cause distractions and that means some stealth and some fighting – and dinosaur action to boot! While it feels just a little drawn out and padded, I had to love the moment where the Red Spider is basically asked by someone with no time travel experience about what the world will be like if the cult never exists. How radically it would change. Suffice to say, their quiet response is priceless, which forces them into a very different resolution role.
That it shifts to the idea, more clearly in this sense, of whether you would kill Hitler as a child or not works rather well. With them all heading back to when Red Death was a child and making a strange plea of sorts with her parents, it’s kind of surreal and goofy yet it provides them a different way of dealing with things. I did like that they spent a little time trying this route before having Red Death herself show up, since she knew they’d try it sooner or later. It’s a fairly chaotic sequence overall with what’s going on there, but it’s also kept short rather than drawn out, which works to its advantage. That it’s all done and finished with a kind of comical ending fits part of the tone of this issue and while it might seem a touch out of place it works rather well for me. It’s almost like you can imagine everyone kind of staring on in disbelief – if not for the fact that a child was just killed. Even if she does become Red Death someday, which was a “given” since that elder vision was there protecting herself.
The second Masks series has a decent resolution overall and it brings most things to a close in a solid enough way. Part of me still really feels that this would have been either better off in six issues or had a more pared down cast that was able to spend its time better in some of the different time periods. It either felt rushed or crowded for a lot of it while also still feeling like the whole thing ran too long. A lo tof that came from the way that the opening couple of issues felt uncertain and ill-defined for what it wanted to do. I’m still not wholly on board with Bunn’s writing style or story structure in general, here and in other books he writes, but he clearly had fun with this cast of characters. Casallos continues to get huge props for his work here in handling such a wide cast of characters in different forms. He continually provided a smooth flow with everything while making the characters look great and exciting to watch in action. There’ll likely be a third series down the line, and I’m totally up for that, though it should be a bit shorter and more defined.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: October 7th, 2015