Trade Paperback Treasury: â??The Maskâ?

Iâ??ve got a crap-load of comic book trade paperbacks (TPBs for short), so I want to share with you reviews of some of my favorites. So if youâ??re browsing your local comic shop, looking for something new, you might want to pick a few of these babies up.

The first comic I want to gush-over in this feature: â??The Maskâ? by John Arcudi and Doug Mahnke, released by Dark Horse Comics. Now, before you run-away, screaming â??Dude, that movie SUCKED!â?, let me assure you of something; The Mask comic and The Mask movie have practically nothing in common save for the title and a guy with a green head.

First thingâ??s first, Iâ??ll get the story out of the way. While looking through a pawn shop for a gift for his girlfriend, spineless nerdlinger, Stanley Ipkiss, purchases a bizarre green mask. He discovers that when he puts it on, unlimited powers are at his finger-tips. The only catch; he goes completely nuts in the process, with no regard for property or human life. Becoming a mass-murdering green-faced lunatic dubbed â??Big-Headâ?, Stanely goes on a cartoonish killing-spree all over Edge City. Stanley is eventually â??dealt withâ? and the mask falls into the hands of Lt. Kellaway, who uses it to clean up the streets of Edge Cityâ?Šin the most violent way possible. The only thing standing in his way? A hulking brute named Walter who appears to have no sense of pain what-so-ever.

So, by reading that synopsis, you can already deduce a few inconsistencies with the movie adaptation. Firstly, this comic is magnificently violent. The â??cartoonishâ? kills are among some of the most brutal images Iâ??ve seen outside of a Garth Ennis comic, brought to life with Doug Mahnkeâ??s gruesome art style.

But beneath all the gore and violence, there is a lesson to be learned. The Mask is all about anarchy; fighting back against the rules and regulations one is born into and doing whatever your heart desires, whether society accepts it or not. Big-Head is anarchy-incarnate, fulfilling everybodyâ??s deepest, darkest fantasy with the manic enthusiasm of Daffy Duck. But the gory art and gallons of bloodshed further the lesson by showing the outcome of unrestrained anarchy and rebellion gone too far. And while this isnâ??t really the kind of book designed to make you think, itâ??s possible you just might. And even if you donâ??t, itâ??s just freakinâ?? awesome.

The Collection contains more than just the comic, though. There is a forward written by Mike Richardson, detailing the genesis of Big-Head and The Mask comic book, including early design sketches, scripts and pages from Dark Horse Comics Presents featuring the earliest incarnation of the character. To top all THAT off, the book concludes with a collection of unfinished pages from a Mask one-shot called â??Sugar, Spice and Everything Niceâ? which was never published.

You get all that for the cover price of $14.99. Not bad, I must say. Once youâ??ve read the book, youâ??ll find it hard to imagine how they possibly could have made a family-friendly kidâ??s movie out of the whole gory mess. And the fact that they DID might just make you angry. The Mask is a lost classic, regretfully over-shadowed by the movie and cartoon incarnations which misinterpret the character of Big-Head to the highest degree. Do yourself a favor and pick this trade up.

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