One of the great thing about Indie comics is that not all of them follow current sensibilities. For those of us who have been reading comics for some time remember those books published a few years back that look at storytelling somewhat differently.
I came across Man in the Mask on Facebook, and I loved the concept–a return to the fun and adventure stories we don’t see so much these days. I bought the collected edition, then interviewed creator Mike W. Belcher for my podcast.
I was particularly happy to see that Mr. Belcher was going to produce Man in the Mask on a more regular basis, in an ongoing issue format. This is the first of the series.
Writers: Mike W. Belcher, Mike Baron
Artist: Mike W. Belcher
Colorist: Aiden Belcher
Publisher: AMK Comics
Cover Price: $4.00
Previously in Man in the Mask: From the coalfields of 1950s, Freebourne City, U.S.A., Tommy Franklin is forced to don a mask to fight back the growing criminal element that has arrived to corrupt his hard working city.
For decades, he watches and protects his hometown, inspiring others in the country to do the same. But as age begins to weigh on him, Tommy makes a decision to retire. He chooses to devote his energies to continuing his legacy, the training of his grandson and molding him to one day wear the mask.
This is their story.
HERO AS A PERSON
This issue is told in the style of the 1960s, when Marvel first arrived on the scene. The comics spent a lot of time focusing on the person behind the costume, like Peter Parker as Spider-Man. He could get a cold, causing his powers to go awry, for example.
We see Tommy Franklin, aka the Man in the Mask, trying to reunite young Sally Hurt with her father, using stealth and his wits to accomplish the task. Next we come across Dynama, his girl friend, then go with Tommy to his job at the Millerton Gazette. Finally, there’s a surprise meeting to finish up the initial story.
After that, we get a second story, this one titled, “Doughnuts,” written by Mike Baron. He follows the pattern set by Mr. Belcher, with our hero saving young birds as well as talking with a man considering suicide.
This book follows a “slice of life” pattern that explores Tommy as a person who functions as a hero in his daily life.
It’s fun as we get to know him and the people around him, making us interested in the characters much more than we might be with some of today’s offerings. After all, we don’t really know some of them at all! It’s nice to genuinely be concerned about the folks in the books we read, for a change!
Much like the storytelling t scripting provides, the art is clear, with action sequences and character expressions both working well.
I like that sometimes the fight scenes are not full of dialogue to explain what’s happening. If the art is good enough, we’ll get what’s going on!!
BOTTOM LINE: TERRIFIC STORYTELLING FULL OF PERSONALITY
Of course, this series will come out when it’s ready rather than follow a monthly cycle, but it will be worth the wait!
To buy your copy, go to Mike’s online store at this link: http://www.amkcomics.com/store.html. If you enjoy adventure and character in your comics, you’ll enjoy Man in the Mask as much as I do!
Mike W. Belcher's Man in the Mask #1
This issue is told in the style of the 1960s, when Marvel first arrived on the scene.