Just as Dynamite is no stranger to crossover event comics, it is also no stranger to team-up style comics, of which the publisher has done quite a few in recent years. Masks is once such title. It came out in 2012-2013 and it brought together many of the publisher’s various pulp action heroes such as The Shadow, Green Hornet, The Spider, and others. I never read the title then, as I wasn’t really into either pulp comics or Dynamite in general back then, and that’s kind of something I regret at this point, given how strongly some of these characters are in their solo series.
Masks 2 came out last month with its first issue, and it kind of proved to be a slam dunk for me. I’m of course familiar with Green Hornet and Kato from the unfortunate Seth Rogen movie, and the other characters like Shadow and Spider I’ve read about in some other titles like Justice Inc. and The Spider, whereas the others are all new to me. And that’s part of the fun of this first issue, that you get to see and meet so many different personalities. Cullen Bunn does some great work setting up the main conflict of the story here, and Eman Casallos’ art seems to hit the mark as well, capturing the feel and tone of the era quite well.
Chris Roberson is the man who brought us Masks last time, but it is Cullen Bunn this time who has taken the reins of the project and is guiding it from the writing side. This first issue starts off by showing us how Green Hornet and Kato work, alongside The Shadow, and then it quickly ramps up to include the other heroes as the danger facing them all increases exponentially, with all of reality at stake. It is very interesting that Masks 2 is coming out at the same time (relatively speaking) as Swords of Sorrow, Dynamite’s other crossover book. However, where Swords of Sorrow is a crossover event running for about 4 months or so, Masks 2 is a team-up book without any supporting titles, so the entire story is contained within this mini-series, making for a somewhat different experience.
And a good experience it is too. Cullen Bunn does a good job of introducing all the characters, especially the Green Hornet and Kato duo or The Shadow, and it is fun to see how much all these heroes clash over their ideologies and their approach to crime, with The Shadow in particular falling on the really rough side of that spectrum. The story has a natural progression from one point to the other and you never feel bored by what is going on because there’s a good mystery behind everything, and of course it is up to the heroes to solve that mystery and solve all of reality.
Cullen Bunn is no stranger to complex characters, as he has some experience working with characters like Sinestro and Magneto, and he brings his typical style to this book too. In spit of all the characters brought together in this first issue, you never feel as if they are strangers to you. We get enough depth to most of them for them to come across as real characters, rather than someone who was thrown in just to up the star count. The Shadow and Green Hornet benefit most of all, but The Spider, Lady Satan, Kato and Black Terror are not that far behind them in that regard and they also appear to be the more interesting heroes than the seemingly lead duo. Which works really well for me.
The art here is by Eman Casallos, with colours by Adriano Augusto, letters by Rob Steen, and the cover by Butch Guice and Alex Guimaraes. Given that these heroes are some of the more hard-hitting of Dynamite’s line-up, and that the story overall has a distinctive noir feeling to it, the art matches up to that very well. The action all takes place during night-time, but that doesn’t mean that the characters are shrouded in shadows or anything. There’s good use of lighting throughout, and the action scenes are pretty thrilling as well. Not to mention that all these characters in one place makes for a great visual feast.
Definitely a good start to the series, this!