Project Superpowers Spins Off Female Heroine


There’s something about golden age heroes and the time period in which their stories are set.  I think it has something to do with the atomic bomb. Prior to the advent of the nuclear age, the world was still full of mystery, unexplored worlds, and magic.  Times were simpler, with readers happy with their mystery men with tales set in far away worlds.  Following the end of World War II those mystery men began to disappear into annals of history – fortunately the threat of the Nazi menace and the rising red menace gave heroes like Masquerade a reason to don the domino mask and fight crime.

Masquerade01CovCho.JPGDynamite Entertainment, Alex Ross, and Phil Hestor have taken those golden age (public domain) characters and have resurrected them for the modern reader.  Unlike the Project Superpowers series, which ends with those heroes in present day, the first issue of Masquerade takes readers back to the golden age of yesteryear as the female hero attempts to bring down an Nazi cult bent on using a giant robot to destroy America.  While this adventure does feature a lot of Pow! Bang! the real story is that of how Diana Adams overcame fear as a young girl.  That strength allows her to eventually overcome the present threat and save the rest of the heroes at the same time.

Like the first Project Superpowers series, this first tale is told via a series of flashbacks.  Under the hand of a lesser writer, stories told via flashback run the risk of totally disrupting the flow of the tale being told.  However, Phil Hester (who wrote the script) is able to jump the reader back in time seamlessly, which makes this tale an engaging one from page to page.

The best part about this issue is the fact that the heroine ends up saving the day, even though she’s put down by both villains and heroes because of her gender.  The makes Masquerade a potentially great role model for women as she’s able to succeed in the world of men.  That being said, Masquerade isn’t an all age despite the golden age nature of the tale.  There is quite a bit of blood and killing in the issue, but in light of what is going on in other comics, the violence level in Masquerade is pretty tame.

Under the art direction of Alex Ross, Carlos Paul’s art comes off very well.  Having endulged in the movie serials of the time period, there are moments where I could see the artist using composition and staging methods from films of the time period.  The color scheme is kept muted for most o the story, except in places where the reds and oranges really need to stand out – namely during the massive explosions in the issue.  Even Masquerade’s costume uses muted reds until the final page.

I’ve only read bits and pieces of the Project Superpowers series, so going in to this issue, I was a complete blank as to the history of the characters.  Still, I was able to figure out, quite easily, who were the good guys, and who were the bad.  And even though readers may not know who the Green Lama or the Fighting Yank are, they’ll still be able to make their way through the issue with little to no confusion.  Masquerade #1 is a solid first issue, with a story that is intriguing – as are any stories that feature Nazi cults and giant robots – and art that works.  Masquerade #1 is worth reading, and is worthy of 4.5 out of 5 Stars.



About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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