And Then I Read: MASKS 1

Image © the respective character copyright holders.

Teaming up several 1930s-40s pulp heroes in a comics story? It’s been tried by DC with little success, but I think Dynamite has gotten it right, thanks to great writing by Chris Roberson and stunning painted art by Alex Ross (who did not do the cover shown here, that’s by Jae Lee).

We open with The Green Hornet and Kato on the streets of New York interrogating some thugs. They’ve come from home-town Chicago on the trail of a mob boss. In steps The Shadow, and after the usual initial scuffle, he convinces the Chicago vigilantes to meet him in a posh restaurant the next day. There, in civilian identities, the three discuss current New York politics that has a new political party made up largely of criminals taking power across the state. They vow to fight this new threat, and in doing so, are joined by The Spider, another vigilante. Meanwhile, a young Hispanic artist, just arrived in town, is unjustly arrested and soon brought to trial. In his art portfolio are drawings of another vigilante from the west, Zorro. Looks like he’ll be joining the group very soon.

I love the way this is handled. Not a lot of posturing and exposition, just letting the characters act and react together in a way that feels natural. The story is very much a period piece, and that helps it work well. Alex Ross does the best version of Lamont Cranston (The Shadow’s other guise) I’ve yet seen, and his art is all great, though some of the page layouts are a little hard to follow. That minor quibble aside, this is choice stuff.

Recommended.

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