Many fondly remember The Mask, the wacky hijinks of a nebbishy bank teller possessed by the spirit of Loki. The original comic is probably also crazy cartoon hijinks too, right? Right? Your Major Spoilers Retro Review of The Mask #0 awaits!
Writer: John Arcudi
Penciler: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Doug Mahnke
Colorist: Matt Webb
Letterer: David Jackson
Editor: Mike Richardson
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $2.95
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $3.00
Release Date: December 2, 1991
Previously in The Mask: The story of The Mask actually begins with Mayhem, an anthology comic put out by Dark Horse Comics in 1989. Alongside adventures of The Mark (a dystopia future tale of a quasi-mystic warrior on a mission) and Mecha (a giant robot story, not the guy from the pages of Catalyst: Agents of Change), readers were introduced to one Stanley Ipkiss. The book lasted four issues, but Dark Horse followed up with a four-issue mini giving The Mask a whole comic to play in. Once all four issues were out, the four shorts from Mayhem were collected in this number zero issue, opening with Stanley making a purchase for that special someone in his life.
Upon exiting the shop, Ipkiss sees a group of bikers rushing by, splashing his newly-washed classic Mustang with mud, causing him to shout angry obscenities as they pass. It’s very different from the sight of Jim Carrey’s struggle buggy in the movie, especially when the bikers return. The whole gang beats him senseless, leaving Stanley to fantasize about revenge on the drive home, where he gives the objet d’art to his girlfriend, Kathy, who can’t believe that he could afford such a lovely piece, but still places it in her collection.
Trouble is, it doesn’t stay there.
Mr. Ipkiss realizes that the voice that he thought he heard on the drive home, the one that urged him to “waste those N*zis” wasn’t in his head at all, but a voice from The Mask. Setting out into the night, he gets mugged, but escapes harm, even after running into traffic and being flattened by a car. “I KNEW I HAD AMAZING ABILITIES!”, he cries, and swears to use them to serve mankind and protect the innocents.
But FIRRRRST, there are some bikers that need murdering, brutally. And also some guys who overcharged him for a muffler. And his former schoolteacher. Not only that, his deadly rampages are shown on-panel, with gore galore and gruesome depictions of his own healing abilities. They also get the attention of the NYPD, and when he does? It’s not a cute, calypso musical number.
Dubbed “Big Head” by the press and police, Ipkiss continues murdering, including a large contingent of police officers, drives a stolen police car through a grocery store, and breaks the fourth wall on a number of occasions, including asking readers if we wonder where he keeps getting his elaborate murder weapons…
…right before pulling out a flame-thrower
I have to say, even though I’m a fan of the movie’s Tex Avery bigfoot antics, the black humor and ridiculously over-the-top violence here are entertaining in their own way. I especially like the silliness of having the blood spatter escape the panel borders, which helps to take a little of the sting out of watching a mentally ill man killing innocents, public servants, and anything else that crosses his path. Throughout all this, Stanley’s loving girlfriend Kathy watches and wonders, eventually putting together what has really been happening when police Lt. Kellaway arrives to talk to her. Strangely, though she did take The Mask from her boyfriend earlier in the story, Kathy doesn’t really have a large part in the tale until very near the end. After wiping out an army of police, including one that he shoots right in the privates with accompanying joke, Stanley returns home knowing that it’s time to get out of New York.
Roll on snare drum. Curtains.
There are three big takeaways from The Mask #0 for me, the first being that the changes made for the 1994 film adaptation were 100% necessary to get it before the camera and the third being that it’s a really enjoyable, if goofy and violent, issue of comics, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. If you’re wondering about the second takeaway, it’s simple annoyance at the fact that Dark Horse’s number one issues of the 1990s are almost never the first chapter of the story, and that it’s way too hard to unravel the timeline of what appeared where first. It’s enough to make a comic book indexer take up S-S-S-SMOOOOKIN’!
Dear Spoilerite,At Major Spoilers, we strive to create original content that you find interesting and entertaining. Producing, writing, recording, editing, and researching requires significant resources. We pay writers, podcast hosts, and other staff members who work tirelessly to provide you with insights into the comic book, gaming, and pop culture industries. Help us keep MajorSpoilers.com strong. Become a Patron (and our superhero) today.
THE MASK #0
The humor is pitch-black and the blood and guts are graphic, but there's still a terrible sort of excitement to Stanley Ipkiss' first adventures with the ancient relic known as The Mask. Just... don't expect Cameron Diaz to arrive with her hair and heart of gold.