Script: Christopher Cantwell
Pencils: Patric Reynolds
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Publisher: Dark Horse Entertainment
The world has changed a great deal since THE MASK debuted in comic shops over 30 years ago. With today’s political and cultural climate, the idea of an all-powerful cartoon with a murderous bent seems in poor taste, and yet the change in times makes this the most appropriate time to revisit the character.
If your familiarity with the subject begins and ends with the 1994 Jim Carrey vehicle, you may be in for a rude awakening. The character, dubbed “Big Head” for obvious reasons, is not a zany crusader of justice with a Tex Avery flourish. He’s a cold-blooded killer whose sick sense of humor runs parallel with his thirst for violence against those who he feels deserve it. The Mask has a personality of its own that essentially takes over the wearer, granting them incredible, logic-defying powers at the cost of their sanity and inhibitions.
The latest mini-series THE MASK: I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE MASK! provides a shocking and violent introduction to the character which briefly, but effectively demonstrates his bizarre sense of justice. While the identity of this iteration of Big Head is hardly integral, it’s worth noting that this series is set firmly in the continuity of the original books.
Writer Christopher Cantwell has a keen grasp of what made those stories work so well, depicting a world ravaged by crime where ultra-violence is almost normalized. Cantwell does a serviceable job of establishing a fresh start without resorting to needless exposition, however the inclusion of returning characters and references to previous storylines may be confusing to some. While reading the older books is not required, it can definitely enrich the story and provide some clarification.
The art by Patric Reynolds is both beautiful and ugly in all the right ways. The setting of Edge City looks like little more than a demilitarized zone. Likewise, the photo-referenced characters are depicted as realistic, flawed, and about as far from glamorous as you can get. With the addition of Lee Loughbridge’s excellent coloring, the art has a grounded approach that makes Big Head’s bright green visage even more terrifying in contrast to the grittiness of the environment.