Monday, 24 September 2012

M.A.S.K. Issue 1

The first fortnightly issue of MASK dated 25th of October to 7th of November 1986 hit our Newsagents in the UK.  Wrapped in a sealed poly bag, it came with a free Ultraflash cardboard cut out Mask. Like the Preview Issue, this item is readily available on Ebay, however, you may find it difficult to find one sealed in it's original wrapper.

This issue reintroduces the war between MASK and VENOM with an updated reprint of the "The Beginning" - just in case you missed out on one of the thousands of free copies of the Preview Issue.

Table of Contents -
  • Front and back wrap around cover (imaged above).
  • Two page welcome to MASK
  • Six pages - "The Beginning" (half B&W, half colour)
  • Five pages - "Testing Time at Boulder Hill" (B&W with red tint on first page)
  • Advert
  • Thunderhawk Centre Page
  • Four pages - "The Great Head Robbery" part one (B&W with blue tint on first page)
  • Single page Guide to Masks
  • Three pages - "War of Venom" part one (B&W with red tint on all pages)
  • Five pages - "The Key of Solomon" part one (B&W with red tint on first page
  • Preview of next issue
Like the MASK toy boxes, the comic covers were vibrant, dynamic and helped to tell a story.  The first cover is very much a VENOM cover of "Mayhem" and destruction.  Great care has been taken to ensure that the vehicles have every detail of their respective toy.

Rhino is Excluded from the MASK banner (as it is on all issues of the comic) to make way for all of the action.

In "The Beginning", Matt Trakker is approached by Miles Mayhem, Intelligence Commander for the Peaceful Nations Alliance, to build weapons in the fight against Contraworld Terrorists.  Along the journey, Matt's Brother, Joe, and the rest of the original MASK team are betrayed and killed by Mayhem.

Matt froms a new team to go against his former ally in arms.

Matt and Miles are the only identifiable members of their respective teams - we do see all the original vehicles in action, so the other members of the teams are more "implied" than visible.

In stark contrast, "Testing Time at Boulder Hill" introduces us to the rest of the MASK team - playing homage to the Cartoon of the same name, each member of the team receives a signal on their watches notifying them they are needed as Boulder Hill is under threat.  We are introduced to each character and their MASK in the Energiser Room.  The threat to Boulder Hill is only a false alarm.

Matt Trakker's Chevrolet Camaro/Jet Fighter is the centrespread in this first issue.  One of the icons of it's era, Matt wears his Spectrum Mask when he pilots "Thunderhawk".

Matt Trakker, Scott Trakker and T-Bob feature as Miles Mayhem and Cliff Dagger in Switchblade steal the head of the Statue of Liberty in "The Great Head Robbery".

The "War of Venom" is the Cover Story of the issue as Venom agents Miles Mayhem, Cliff Dagger and Sly Rax attack the Central American Sate of Tigmula.

Matt and his team are glorified Security in "The Key of Solomon" charged with protecting a collection of ancient treasures on their way through London to the British Museum.  Miles Mayhem, of course, wants to make sure they don't succeed.

A great introduction to the series whether you had read the Preview Issue or not.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Preview Issue

Although not titled "Issue 1" the "Free Super Preview Issue!" was the premiere of M.A.S.K. comic in the UK.

Published by IPC Magazines, the comic was given away free with every "Boys" Comic at the time from the IPC stable.  This included The Eagle, Battle Action Force and Roy of the Rovers to name but a few.

So, whether you went on to collect this comic or not, most comic collectors in UK would've had this comic in their collection.

This opened the door to "A great new world of adventure!" for many of us with it's great format - from the colourful front and back covers to the centre page poster, this format would last for a regular run of 80 issues.

On the front cover of this issue, we have almost all of the main characters that were introduced first into the UK.  Matt Trakker with his Ultraflash MASK and his team - Dusty Hayes (Backlash Mask), Brad Turner (Hocus Pocus Mask), Alex Sector (Jackrabbit Mask) and Bruce Sato (Lifter Mask).  Hondo MacLean (Blaster Mask) for some reason is missing.  We also don't see Matt Trakker's more popular Spectrum Mask.

V.E.N.O.M. Leader Miles Mayhem with his Viper Mask is backed up by Cliff Dagger (Torch Mask) and Sly Rax (Stiletto Mask).

The back cover shows the original 7 vehicles brought to the UK comic - for MASK - Rhino, Thunderhawk, Gator and Condor and VENOM - Switchblade, Jackhammer and Pirhana.

The inside cover gives us a little background on the struggle between MASK and VENOM before throwing us into the action in the first Strip entitled "The Beginning".  Somehow, we manage to fit a whole back story of how MASK and VENOM were born within a 6 page black and white strip.

The story of Miles Mayhem and Matt Trakker setting up MASK together share it's roots with the Mini Comics that came with the toys, however, in this Preview comic Matt's brother is called Joe, not  Andy.

On the hunt of a secret parchment, the next 5 page story "Secret of the Tomb" sees Miles Mayhem and Cliff Dagger venturing to Egypt and the the Great Pyramid of Ra.  The first of these pages is Black and White with a hint of yellow - this sets the tone for the rest of the series where a mono colour is quite often found of the first page of a story.

After a full page Advert, we then get to one of the defining parts of every issue - the Centre Page Poster!  From the illusion of an innocent Gas Station, Boulder Hill quickly converts to MASK's head quarters.

Four pages of  "The day it rained money!" then followed by an Advert and three pages of "Mask of Evil".  One more advert page followed by four pages of "Royal Robbery" leads us to the inside of the back cover and preview of what we can expect from the first issue.

Overall, this was a spectacular start, despite being Black and White with splashes of colour here and there.


October 1986 was a defining moment for me.

I bought two of my normal comics, The Eagle and Battle Action Force, to find a free gift of a "Free Super Preview Issue!" of M.A.S.K.  I was intrigued and read it several times before the first issue of the comic eventually came out and this started my collection.

From all 80 issues, to the merger with Eagle and various Holiday Specials and Annuals - I collected them all.

Three years ago, I had just finished the rewrite of a script when i decided that it was about time for a M.A.S.K. movie - so I started writing a script.  A few months after I started it, my little boy Reece was Born and took up much of my time as did my Father's failing health until he passed away in May this year.

I am now keen to share my love of the comics with everyone, whilst I continue my journey to complete my script.