Wednesday, 28 November 2012

M.A.S.K. Issue 4

Issue four of the 35p M.A.S.K. comic is dated 6th-19th December 1986 (not long until Christmas kids).

Table of contents -
  • Front and Back Wraparound Cover
  • Five Pages - "Monster Mountain" Part 3 (B&W with Pink Tint First Cell)
  • Four Pages - "The Great Head Robbery" Part 4 (Colour)
  • Five Pages - "Battle in the Alps" (B&W)
  • Centre Page Spread - Condor
  • Five Pages  -"War of Venom" Conclusion (B&W with Pink Tint First Cell)
  • Single Page - Advertisement
  • Single Page - Letters Page
  • Single Page - Lifter MASK Cutout
  • Single Page - Advertisement
  • Four Pages - "Key of Solomon" Conclusion (B&W)
  • Single Page - preview of next issue
Matt Trakker, Scott Trakker and T-Bob are present in Thunderhawk on this week's cover being shot at from Cliff Dagger in Jackhammer on the back cover.  Three images of Thunderhawk to show "movement" as it flies across the front page.  Dusty Hayes and Hondo MacLean Headshots on the back cover discussing their predicament.

I'm afraid to say that I'm not impressed with the front cover of this issue.  I appreciate what they were doing with this cover, but it just doesn't feel right to me - the inside I'm afraid doesn't really get much better.

Scott Trakker calls for "M.A.S.K." reinforcements on Matt's instructions as Part Three of "Monster Mountain" kicks off.  The reinforcements arrive in the nick of time, in the shape of Hondo MacLean and Dusty Hayes, as Dagger uses Jackhammer on Thunderhawk causing her to plummet.  Dusty uses a shockwave from Backlash to prevent Thunderhawk hitting the ground whilst Hondo's Blaster Mask takes control of her guidance system.

Meanwhile, a one eyed giant is stirring from below the ice.

Three comments I have with this story are this -

  1. How did Hondo and Dusty arrive on the scene so quickly
  2. Why do they have Condor and not have Gator?  (Firecracker isn't introduced until a few issues down the road - until then Hondo acts as Gator's co-pilot)
  3. Blaster fires lasers so how does it manage to control Thunderhawk?
Manhattan is still under fire from Jackhammer hidden within the head of The Statue of Liberty in Part Four of  "The Great Head Robbery" whilst Armoured Bulldozers with Venom Livery crash into Banks allowing Contraworld agents to rob Cash, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

As Rhino is lying in a water grave from last issue, Matt Trakker Hitches a ride from Brad Turner on the back of Condor to drop in on Cliff Dagger in the Statue and immediately comes under "fire" from his Torch Mask...   Will he survive to save the day?

"Battle of the Alps" sees Venom attack a Swiss Bank as a transfer of Bullion is taking place via an armoured car. - Miles Mayhem in Switchblade, Sly Rax and Cliff Dagger in Piranha.  As they make their getaway - Dagger driving the Armoured Car full of Bullion - Matt and Bruce in Rhino foil their plans.

A nice simple story with probably the best artwork of the issue - as can be seen by the image of Rhino above.

Brad Turner and Condor adorn the centre page spread this week.  I have to admit that Condor was always one of my Favourite vehicles when I was collecting the comics and in fact was the first toy that I ever purchased.  Judging by the images, the artist must also have had the toy of Condor - they are almost technical drawings of the toy.

Due to this, you don't get the same sense of Action that the other centre page spreads convey. 

Buddie Hawkes uses Penetrator in combination with Rhino's ATV to rescue the stricken Dusty Hayes in the Conclusion of the "War of Venom".  Brad Turner uses his Hocus Pocus Mask to create an image of an army whilst Matt Trakker and Bruce Sato in Thunderhawk fend off a squadron of jets to help win the war.

Buddie Hawkes, Master of Disguise, has been kidnapped by Miles Mayhem and his cohorts.  He uses his MASK watch to signal is location to the rest of the troops - they arrive just in time but VENOM manage to escape to live another day.

Despite not to keen on the artistry of this issue, there was a sense of completion with two of the serial story's coming to their respective conclusions.  This gave me a sense of anticipation for the next issue as we would have some new and exciting story's to come.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Script Finished

Finished my M.A.S.K. Script at last. Will go through it with a couple of people before going to Producers.

Fingers crossed.

Will be about a week before my normal blog resumes.


Sent from my Windows Phone

Monday, 5 November 2012

M.A.S.K. US Issue 1 V's M.A.S.K. UK Issue 1

In a change from my usual blog, I thought I'd take the time to compare Issue 1 of M.A.S.K. UK against Issue 1 of 4 from the M.A.S.K. US Mini Series.

Published 1 year before the UK version, the American series started in DC Comics 50th Anniversary year of 1985 - the same year as the Cartoon and toys.  The first striking difference between the two comics is the size - the US comic sticks to the standard American format of comics, whereas the UK comic is a large format - slightly bigger than even other UK comics of it's time such as The Eagle.

To ensure the Headmast stands out in the Newsagents, both comics have the "MASK" lettering in a large font.  The UK comic has removed Rhino from the overall logo to save on space.  The US comic has Rhino and the Mask symbol reduced in size so that the full logo doesn't take up half of the front cover.

As there is a full page advert on the back of the US version, there is no wraparound cover unlike the UK version.  The size of the comic combined with the full wraparound cover allows the UK cover to exhibit grandeur over his American relation whose cover art doesn't have the depth of realism that the UK version has.

Once you open up the comic, there are more differences abound.  The US Version is in full colour throughout.  On the other hand, the UK version is mainly Black and White with only a few pages in Colour.  That being said, the artwork in the UK comic is generally of a higher standard and with it's shiny good quality paper feels more luxuriant over the poor quality of American version.

The next big difference is the layout.  The US version has one strip that feels like it could be an episode of the cartoon.  The story ends with a thread that continues into the next issue.

The UK comic, however, generally has 5 strips per issue - some are one off story's and some continue into the next issue.  The benefit of this format becomes more apparent once more Characters and Vehicles are introduced.  In the US version, if your favourite Character or Vehicle isn't in the story then they're not in the strip.  With the UK Version having 5 strips there is a better chance of your favourite appearing in at least one of the strips.

As well has having it's famous wraparound covers, the UK comic also had a centrepage poster every week.  In stark contrast, the US versions centrepage is filled with an advert featuring NBC's children's TV lineup.  In fact, the US version has eleven pages of advertising in comparison to only one and half in the UK version.

To sum up, the cost of each comic is 35p and in my opinion, the UK comic offered far better value for money.  The UK comic lasted 80 issues plus a preview issue and various holiday specials before merging with the Eagle for around 20 or so issues.  The American version - a 4-part mini-series followed by a monthly that managed only 9 issues, need I say more?

Perhaps M.A.S.K. was just a bigger phenomenon in the UK but if it was, I would say that the IPC/FLEETWAY comic helped it along.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

M.A.S.K. Issue 3

Dated 22nd November - 5th December 1986, saw the third issue of M.A.S.K. hit the UK Newsagent Shelves.

Table of contents -
  • Front and back wraparound cover
  • Five pages - "Monster Mountain" Part 2 (B&W with red tint first cell)
  • Four pages - "The Great Head Robbery" (Colour)
  • Five pages - "Operation Sea Dog!" (B&W)
  • Centrepage spread - Rhino
  • Five pages - "The Key of Solomon" Part 3 (B&W with blue tint first cell)
  • Single page - Advertisement
  • Single page - Letters page
  • Single page - Spectrum MASK cutout
  • Five pages - "War of Venom" Part 3 (B&W with blue tint first cell)
  • Single page - preview of next issue
Starting off with the boast of "Too big for just a cover" we see Rhino in action - an unsuspecting baddie is dispatched from Rhino courtesy of her Ejection Seat as Bruce Sato wearing his Rhino Mask follows behind.

Like so many covers, this issue 3's is full of action and suspense and draws you into the comic.  The UK MASK comic was a larger size than most comics of it's day and lends itself well this type of cover.

In Part 2 of "Monster Mountain", Matt, Scott and T-Bob have to flee a Volcanic Eruption in Thunderhawk.  Matt attempts to use various weapons in order to protect the locals and tourists from the Molten Lava and then comes to the realisation that this eruption is the work of VENOM.

We then cut to Miles Mayhem as he and Sly Rax explain the devious plan to the dimwitted Cliff Dagger that they are trying to melt a Glacier to free the Giant of Geissmuhl.

Shells rain down in Lower Manhattan as Jackhammer fires from her hiding place with the head of The Statue of Liberty in "The Great Head Robbery" part three.  Buildings collapse and come down on unsuspecting members of the public.  As Buddie Hawkes and a repair crew work to get Thunderhawk back in working order, Matt, Bruce and Alex take Rhino out onto a Jetty and use her missile launcher to fire at the Statue - but miss.

This alerts VENOM to their presence and Sly Rax is dispatched in Piranha to deal with them, destroying the Jetty legs, Rhino and crew fall into the water...

Miles Mayhem lands Switchblade on the deck of an Oil Platform in "Operation Seadog!" and uses his Viper Mask to stamp his authority to take it over.  Meanwhile, Matt Trakker is alerted to the situation by Duane Kennedy of the Peaceful Nations Alliance so he and Buddie head off in Thunderhawk to investigate.

Mayhem has place explosives all around the Platform and threatens to blow it up if MASK interfere in his business and gives chase of Thunderhawk in Switchblade.  Matt decides to land on a passing Oil Tanker to abate the confrontation - however, Cliff Dagger and Sly Rax are on the Oil Tanker and Rax uses his Stiletto Mask to pin Matt and Buddie to some crates.  We find out that Rax is about to go after sunken treasure in Piranha.

Everything works out ok for the MASK team, however, as Brad Turner in Condor and Hondo MacLean in Gator, not to mention the Russian Navy, come to their aid.

Piloted by Matt Trakker when wearing his Ultraflash Mask and Bruce Sato with Lifter, Rhino is the focus of this weeks centrepage spread.  We see her in all of her glory in mid battle.  As previously mentioned, the larger format of the MASK comic allows this to be a great spectacle and as can be seen by the image above the artwork is immense.

Buddie Hawkes is in disguise as Blaire "The Toff" Dickins in the "The Key of Solomon" part three as he meets with Miles Mayhem.  He is told that "The Toff" must deliver "The False Kali of Kush" to Mayhem in one week.  We discover that this contains the last piece of "The Key of Solomon" - an ancient book that details how to summon Demons to find Hidden Treasure.

Unbeknownst to the MASK team, Buddie is walking into a trap when he takes the Kali to Mayhem as his disguise didn't full "The Toff's" former Cell Mate Steady Jones and his taken captive.

The first two issues of the MASK comic came with free Cardboard Cutout Mask's - this issue, however, we have a page dedicated to Spectrum that you can cut out yourself to use as a Mask - imagine tempting kids into wrecking this great comic by doing such a thing!

Alex Sector using his Jackrabbit Mask faces off against the might of a Jet Fighter in part three of "War of Venom".  Luckily, Brad Turner comes to his aid in Condor.  They then have to go to the aid of Hondo MacLean and Dusty Hayes as they face off against some tanks.

During the battle, Gator is hit throwing Dusty clear.  Buddie Hawkes using Rhino's ATV in combination with his Penetrator Mask, heads out to recover Dusty who has been left dazed and confused by his ordeal.

This is another great issue from IPC Magzines.  By now, it is becoming clear that the Covers, Centrepages and Black and White strips contain the best of the Artwork.  The images of Thunderhawk taking flight and Sly Rax using his Stiletto Mask in Operation Seadog! are amazing.

The storylines are good and we see great use of all the characters, vehicles and Masks.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Links Page Added

Above you will find a tab full of other M.A.S.K. content related website.

Please take a look at these great sites.