Getting to know you. Getting to know all about you.
That’s kind of what the second issue of Masks is. While the first issue set up the place, the time and the bad guy, it only dabbled in the heroes. Masks #1 established the presence of The Green Hornet and Kato, their meeting with The Shadow and The Spider, and the eventual face off against the corrupt police and government forces of New York City.
Masks #2 throws a bit of curve ball in the opening pages. As the corrupt police force raids the homes of the poor to collect their fair “tax,” a woman races to a dark room where she’s met by a handsome stranger. Turns out the woman is a superhero whose costume is a mix of Cat Woman sexy and Batman spooky. The handsome stranger reveals himself as another hero, a man cloaked in a green hooded robe. Writer Chris Roberson never explains who these two are - instead he jumps back into the battle with The Shadow, Green Hornet, Kato and Spider.
Outnumbered by the corrupt cops, the heroes fight valiantly but must ultimately retreat to the sprawling mansion of The Spider. There, the heroes discuss who they are, what they’re doing and why they must unite to bring down a city under the dark shadow of corruption. Meanwhile, there’s a prison riot as a bunch of convicts, about to be unjustly hung, go on the attack. There to help out in the convicts time of need is the District Attorney, who is wounded by a rogue gunshot.
Nothing really happens in this issue, it’s more set up for what is to come. Roberson’s ability to write crisp dialog that rings back to the Golden Age of comics, combined with a real Golden Age feel to Masks, keeps it interesting even as all the untied plot strings begin to flutter about. Who is the female hero? Who is robed man? How will our main heroes meet with them and how will that lead to saving a corrupt city? By the end of Masks #2, Roberson has excited you to find out all these answers.
While the first Masks boasted art from Alex Ross, Masks #2 is split between Ross and Dennis Calero, who has a similar style. Both men excel at panels combining fine art paintings and Golden Age comic book art. While Calero is good, there’s no difficulty figuring out who has painted what pages. Ross’s work is more ethereal, almost unworldly in its execution. Calero has that fine art style but his work is grittier, more real world driven. You’d think the two styles would clash enough to make Masks #2 a miserable failure but it doesn’t. The entire issue is quite beautiful.
Masks isn’t just for those who love Golden Age books, it’s for those who love comic books across the board.
(4 Story, 4 Art)