Sunday, 30 December 2012

M.A.S.K. Annual

British Tradition dictates that if anything is popular - comics, toys, cartoons, movies, etc. - then an Annual will be produced at Christmas time.  M.A.S.K. falls into a number of these categories what with a successful Toyline, Comic and Cartoon.

Table of Contents -

  • Front Cover
  • Single Page - M.A.S.K. Emblem (Colour)
  • Twenty Three Pages - "When Opportunity Knox!" (Colour)
  • Four Pages - "Inside Job" (Text Based Story)
  • Eight Pages - Character Profiles (Colour)
  • Four Pages - "Black Gold" (Text Based Story)
  • Twenty Two Pages - "The Domain of the Dead" (Colour)
The front cover of the first ever M.A.S.K. Annual features Switchblade and Rhino in Battle with head shots of the Opposing Team leaders - Matt Trakker and Miles Mayhem.

"When Opportunity Knox" Starts off with Matt Trakker aboard an American Aircraft Carrier preparing to Dive to retrieve a Malfunctioning Strategic Defense Satellite.  As he is rescuing it, a V.E.N.O.M. Submersible arrives too late!

Once back onboard the Aircraft Carrier, the Satellite is loaded into the boot of Thunderhawk and Matt flies back to Boulder Hill to examine the Satellite.  As he, Alex Sector and Buddie Hawkes are about to inspect the Satellite, Miles Mayhem in Switchblade, Cliff Dagger in Jackhammer and Sly Rax on Piranha attack Boulder Hill allowing us to see Boulder Hills Array of Weaponry.

We cut to Duane Kennedy of the Peaceful Nations Alliance receiving a Snake Shaped Balloon.  Back to the main action and our heroes manage to overcome their attackers.

After all of that action, Matt heads off to take his adopted son, Scott, and his faithful sidekick, T-Bob, on a vacation.  Matt receives a priority message from Duane, just as Scott buys a Snake Balloon the same as the one delivered to Duane's office.  Scott and T-Bob are ordered back to the Hotel to wait on Matt's return.

Duane informs Matt that all of the Gold reserves at Fort Knox have been stolen - he summons the team -  Bruce Sato in Rhino; Brad Turner on Condor and Dusty Hayes in Gator.  When they arrive at Fort Knox, Matt's Spectrum Mask detects a hidden tunnel under the floor - Dusty's Backlash Mask makes an entrance to the tunnel.  As Dusty and Brad follow the tunnel, Matt and Bruce follow above in Rhino until they come across the Tunnelling Mole and the stolen Gold Bullion being loaded into a Hovercraft - only Sly Rax and Cliff Dagger are present.

At the same time sleeping gas, from the Snake Balloon, knocks out Scott Trakker as Miles Mayhem and two henchmen Kidnap him and T-Bob leaving behind an Egyptian symbol on the wall to be continued...

Miles Mayhem and his team attack Melville Penitentiary looking for Fernando Rosch in "Inside Job".  As they make off with him, 800 prisoners make their escape via a whole in the wall created by V.E.N.O.M.

When the M.A.S.K. team arrive, some of them go after the missing prisoners whilst Matt Trakker tries to figure out Mayhems devious plan.  He discovers that Rosch used to work for the Peaceful Nations Alliance as a Computer Expert before going into the private sector and was caught selling PNA secrets to Contraworld.

Mayhem explains his plan to Rosch and the rest of the team - he is being paid, in foreign currency, to bring down the US economy.

Matt Trakker deduces that whatever Mayhem is up to, Rosch will need specialist equipment from his old company - so they lay a trap.  After a battle, Rosch is captured and delivered back to the Penitentiary.

We then move onto eight pages of character profiles.

Giving us an insight into some of our favourite characters - their Codename, Age, Civilian Activities, MASK/VENOM role, their Masks & vehicles and their Special traits.

This is a great insight into the world of illusion that is M.A.S.K.

Matt Trakker is on his way to join up with his M.A.S.K. team in the Gulf of Mexico at the start of "Black Gold" when he receives a call from Duane Kennedy.  He informs Matt that Sheikh Mustapha, the High Potentate of Sharam, has come to America to buy some Racing cars and is carrying with him 27 million dollars in Gold Bullion.

Matt agrees to allow Brad Turner to shadow the Sheikh to make sure V.E.N.O.M. don't attempt to rob him.  As Matt Rendezvous with the rest of team when Switchblade and Piranha strike at oil rig - as M.A.S.K. intervene - the V.E.N.O.M. agents turn tail and run.

Matt then receives a call from Brad that a V.E.N.O.M. team have managed to capture the Sheikh.  Sensing that his team had been set up, Matt returns with the team leaving only Gloria and Calhoun in the Gulf in case he's wrong.

As they arrive back, a ransom demand has been sent to the PNA for the Gold Bullion - Trakker puts a plan into action and manages to rescue the Sheikh.

"The Domain of the Dead" continues where "When Opportunity Knox!" left off.  Matt and Bruce fly to Cairo in Thunderhawk to meet up with Professor Ginsburg to see if he can help him find the kidnapped Scott Trakker and T-Bob.

Unfortunately, Ginsburg and his team fall through a trap door within a Pyramid and come across "Anubis" and three "Mummies"...

As Matt and Bruce arrive at the museum for their meeting they are advised that Prof Ginsburg is unusually late when they hear a commotion and discover "Anubis" and the "Mummies" robbing the museum.  Despite Matt and Bruce's valiant efforts, the robbers escape.

As Matt is about to call up the M.A.S.K. team, he receives a call from Duane to advise he is sending a new member of the team to help out - Nash Gorey - an Egyptian Expert.  Jaques LeFluer in Volcano; Hondo MacLean in Firecracker (NB although text mentions Firecracker, the images are of Hurricane) and Julio Lopez in Firefly.

We then cut away to discover that "Anubis" is actually Miles Mayhem and his Mummies are actually Cliff Dagger, Bruno Sheppard and Sly Rax.

Nash Gorey arrives at the same time as the rest of the M.A.S.K. team and they set off after Anubis and the captives!  They encounter the V.E.N.O.M. agents and a battle ensues; firstly outside in the vehicles and then continues inside and the M.A.S.K. team manage to prevail over V.E.N.O.M.

As a collector of the comics, I had mixed feelings about the Annual.  It was exciting to see some new characters and vehicles as up until this point, the comic only centred on a core section for the first eight issues - we were only at issue number 5 at Christmas time - so would be another 4 issues before some "new blood" would appear in the comics.

The art in the comic is completely different from the comic and has a different feel to it.  Reading through it a number of times I got the impression that somethings weren't quite right - for example in "The Domain of the Dead" it refers to and incident that happened "last issue".

In the last page below, we only have a half page and Julio Lopez is making a comment that doesn't seem to fit -

Everyone around him is enjoying their success yet he is exclaiming "Hey you Guys!"

It wouldn't be until a few years later when I managed to get a hold of the American Four Part Mini-Series that I would find out my suspicions were correct and that the two story's were in fact the first two issues of the comic and there are a couple of missing Cells that would lead us into issue three.

As said before there is confusion over Firecracker/Hurricane and in the text story's vehicles are referred to as "The" Thunderhawk or "The" Switchblade as an example which I don't like.

Bruno's vehicle is called Stinger in the UK but is called Scorpion in the Annual (again I would find this out later on in the UK Comic run when this vehicle is introduced) along with some other errors - to many to list or be picky over.

Nevertheless, this Annual is pride of place in my collection!

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