M.A.S.K. Revolution #1
Writer: Brandon Easton
Artist: Tony Vargas
Colors: Jordi Escuin
Letters: Chris Lowry
Publisher: Ted Adams
Review by David Hildebrand
Quick crash course history lesson boys and girls! The original M.A.S.K. line ran from 1985 to 1988. It featured everyday vehicles from helicopters to motorcycles that would transform into armored assault vehicles. The characters wore masks that gave them extraordinary powers. Class dismissed! Now, I have been looking forward to reading M.A.S.K. Revolution #1 ever since I saw first mention of it. When I was younger, I loved M.A.S.K.! I watched the cartoon, collected the comics, and I loved the toys. It was so much fun pushing the button on the vehicles to turn them into merciless killing machines. It wasn’t fun losing the tiny masks under the couch and struggling to find them. But M.A.S.K. is awesome… or it was awesome until I finally got my hands on this book. If you are a M.A.S.K. fan and looking for more of the original storyline that was presented to us back in the 80’s, you might want to “X” out of this now because I didn’t enjoy this book. It pains me to type that, but it is the truth.
I have read M.A.S.K. Revolution twice trying to find positives. If you are an old school M.A.S.K. fan, chances are you might end up like me, scratching your head the entire time reading this. I’m all for taking risks and putting a unique spin on things to make them different… but this is M.A.S.K. Cars turn into weapons, masks have special powers controlled by the character wearing them. It’s fun! I don’t know what happened here, but I didn’t have fun reading this. Miles “Mayhem” Manheim is the founder of M.A.S.K. in M.A.S.K. Revolution #1. What? Yeah, you read that right. The leader of V.E.N.O.M, the main enemy of M.A.S.K. is the founder of M.A.S.K.. He recruits all the normal players we are used to seeing. We have Brad Turner, Julio Lopez, Gloria Baker, Sly Rax, and Vanessa Warfield, among others.
Oh! And of course Matt Tracker, but Tracker was saved by Manheim in this story. Tracker has committed a crime, nothing detailed yet to what it was, and he is now getting a second chance. Miles even says “do it for your father”. Have you heard this before? Many times? Yes, we all have! The characters are younger versions of the ones that we are used to, except for Miles, and he runs them through a string of tests like in a spy movie (The Kingsman came to mind) to see who can pass with flying colors to be part of the strike team. It is terribly clichéd throughout the whole book, even displaying two recruits that, if you are a fan of M.A.S.K., you will not recognise. And that’s okay because they are basic pawns that expire halfway through the book. This is nothing new, it has been done repeatedly and just doesn’t feel like M.A.S.K. except for the characters and vehicles.
Easton’s writing is fine for the story he’s telling, I suppose. However, it is a story that’s by the numbers and nothing new is brought to the table here. It’s like various themes were taken from a variety of movies to create this story. There is even a line in the book that says “I’ve seen a movie like this”. I was questioning if Easton is now making fun of himself. Tracker, even though he has committed this crime, which is vague, wants to rescue people from a sure demise. His heroism is starting to shine through, but it could have been done in a different way. As it stands, it just feels forced and tacked on.
The two things this book has going for it are the art and the colors. The cars and the actual masks are as they originally were in the show. The book has cartoon feel to it and that was a joy to see. Vargas even throws in the sound effects as the cars zoom off through the desert and as the masks powers come to life. Escuin’s colors add to the cartoon feel, I could almost hear the music as the action happened. So there are positives at the end of a dark tunnel.
Skip It! I say skip it, but I guess this could go a couple of ways. If you are an old school M.A.S.K. fan like I am and wanting to relive your memories, this book is not going to make you happy. If you are new to M.A.S.K. and have nothing to compare it to, and are willing to overlook all the Hollywood clichés, you might enjoy the book. I wanted to like this so bad. This wasn’t easy to write about. I know this is a one shot that is going to tie into Revolution, which is a decent book. If you go back to my review on Revolution #1, you see me cry out asking where M.A.S.K. was. Well, I know where they are now and I’m good. Thanks.