When I open a comic and the first thing I see are images of soldiers in uniform (whatever the uniform) I can't say my heart skips for joy. So without any great expectations, I opened Masked and read on figuring if I don't like this I won't review it. Well I'm reviewing it, so guess what - I liked it. A lot.
With good graphics and an intriguing storyline, Masked quickly surpassed my low expectations and then some, and within a couple of pages I was hooked. Not only that, I was really sorry when I reached the end. Not only had I enjoyed what I'd read, I wanted to read more, lots more.
The story starts in Georgia, Soviet Georgia, not US. With a band of solders in Allied looking camouflage, guns in hand - and snails. Well to be honest they looked more like ammonites than normal snails, but I'm no mollusc expert. The action started quickly with impressive drone technology that I'm sure every army in the world would appreciate, ultimately the crew is saved by a man we see only by his shadow and the edge of his red cape, feel free to speculate. Then we hear that the two survivors, Frank Braffort and Melissa Taleb, obvious heroes of the piece, are mentally ill and in jail respectively. Doesn't bode well, but hey it worked for Murdock and the A Team (oh dear, am I showing my age again?).
In recovery, Braffort joins his sister in Paris, France. This man still clearly has "issues", but hey, who doesn't. This section gives the reader the opportunity to see more of the shifts going on in this world, the background we all need. It’s a very similar world to our own, but some impressive technological advances, some odd free broadcasts and 'anomalies', which appear to consist of mechaniod organisms that may or may not imitate life.
Then a blast from Braffort's past turns up offering a job; there’s no discussion about job description, remuneration, hours or benefits, but hey those are usually the most interesting jobs, right? Well this one seems to be. After a quickie visit to Mel - not entirely sure any prison actually offers double beds, but this is an alternative universe and it seems no comic is complete without an excuse for toplessness these days, but at least it proves our hero is human.
Still the story moves on quickly and we are pulled deeper into the mysterious world of anomalies and the security forces of this new world. What happens to Braffort and the final page, that came as a surprise, it's a great pay off and left me wanting more, which a good story ought to do whenever possible.
I'd give this one a 4.5 out of 5, but only because there's that indefinable je ne sais quoi missing. I suspect a less harsh reviewer would give it the full 5, I'm tempted to, but I'm not quite there yet, maybe 4.75.
Published by Titan Comics, Masked: Vol 1 - Anomalies is released on April 7th 2015.
To find your local comic store visit: http://www.comicshoplocator.com/
Gail lives in her own private dungeon populated with all the weird and the wonderful she can imagine. Some of it’s very weird, and the odd bits and pieces are a bit wonderful. Well okay, she lives in Swansea with her husband and daughter. And the world’s most demanding cat. To find out more about Gail, check out www.gailbwilliams.co.uk - Dare you!