Or – “Lots Of Awesome Hats.”

With all the licensed properties under their roof, it’s quite astonishing that Dynamite took this long to do the big, giant crossover schmageggi.  Now, the pulp heroes of the last century stand together against an uncertain and corrupt social order, a veritable Justice Haberdashery of America, if you will.  Can they succeed?  Your Major Spoilers reviews awaits!

Masks5CoverMASKS #8
Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Dennis Calero
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Art Director: Alex Ross
Editor: Joe Rybandt
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Masks: The city of New York, circa 1939, is under the thumb of a fascist regime known as The Party Of Justice.  The Shadow, The Green Hornet, The Spider and others have come together to use their extraordinary abilities and knowledge to overcome injustice blah blah blah fishcakes, nice hats, and somebody is gonna get punched.


This issue opens with the moment that I’ve been waiting for, as young Master Vega takes up his great-grandfather’s mantle, taking to the streets with mask, cape and rapier to combat the armored thugs of the Party of Justice.  Seeing a smiling Zorro taking on the bad guys, blade flashing in the street lamps, is pretty awesome, but the rest of our cast (The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Kato, The Black Terror, The Green Lama and Miss Fury) have gathered to regroup after the seeming loss of one of their number, The Spider, who seemingly fell in battle last ish.  In a very pulpy sequence, the assembled heroes piece together what they’ve learned, under the direction of The Shadow, who puts forth his thoughts on the matter succinctly:  “Crime must NOT pay.”   He also has a piece of information that he thinks will lead them directly to the masters behind the Black Legion stormtroopers…


It’s an interesting issue visually, as well, as we see The Black Bat taking to the streets using his newly found abilities, and we finally get the full-fledged team-up of Batman’s antecedents in a lovely night-time fight sequence.  Most of the rest of the issue is dedicated to skulking and fighty-fighty, with a fascinating moment wherein the Green Hornet reveals that The Shadow gave him tips on mind-clouding, while The Shadow references Doc Savage and even implies that he’d like to have the big man’s assistance in their current mission.  (They’re infiltrating the Empire State Building, through the 86th floor…)  All in all, it’s a middle chapter, but a middle chapter that doesn’t leave you wanting, even with no less than THREE cliffhangers, not counting the whereabouts of the almost-certainly-not-dead Richard “Spider” Wentworth.


I don’t know nearly as much about pulp heroes as writer Chris Roberson clearly does, and the use of each is fun here.  The Shadow is mysterious and haughty, The Green Hornet impulsive and smart, and even Miss Fury gets some lovely lines in.  The inclusion of the Black Terror, who I associate much more with his super-heroic antics, is troublesome, though, especially in that he seems to still have his super-strength here.  I’d much have preferred for his role to be filled by the aforementioned Clark Savage,to be honest.  But, the debut of Zorro II is cool as heck, and the book looks good, never falling into muddy storytelling even when showing men in black cloaks in the dead of night.  Masks #5 makes me happy in the way that super-group albums and cross-over fan-fiction do, treating the multiple characters with respect and delivering a pretty good chunk of story in the bargain, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★★½☆


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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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