Sunday, 1 November 2015

M.A.S.K. Comic UK Issue 20

The last two weeks of July 1987 offered up issue 20 of M.A.S.K. UK Comic from the 18th to the 31st.

In spectacular fashion, we see Cliff Dagger literally bursting through the front cover of the comic all guns blazing.  This is another typical example of the great covers we have come to love and expect from M.A.S.K.

Meanwhile, on the back cover, Matt Trakker instructs Julio Lopez to get Airborne in Firefly as V.E.N.O.M. are attacking in force in the "Energy Crisis" story within.

Is there anything I could criticise this cover for?  Only a small point - if the tears in the page had shown us a glimpse of the first page on the other side - that would've been awesome.  Although, this would've been difficult to achieve, so I can understand why they didn't go down this route.

Table of Contents -

  • Front and Back Wraparound Cover
  • Five Pages - "Operation Vandal" Part 4 (B&W with Blue Tint First Cell)
  • Four Pages - "Royal Rescue" Part 4 (Colour)
  • Five Pages - "Inside the Volcano" Part 4 (B&W)
  • Centre Page Spread - Firecracker
  • Five Pages - "Energy Crisis" (B&W with Pink Tint First Cell)
  • Single Page - Advertisement
  • Single Page - Half MASK Art/Half Advertisement
  • Four Pages- Advertisements
  • Four Pages - "The Drowning City" Part 1 (B&W)
  • Single Page - Advertisement
Our opening salvo comes in the form of Part Four of "Operation Vandal".   After V.E.N.O.M.'s threat against one of America's most famous landmarks, Mount Rushmore, M.A.S.K. agents Dusty Hayes and Hondo MacLean in Gator and Brad Turner on Condor are dispatched to protect it.

However, the United States Air Force are a bit trigger happy and don't realise that the M.A.S.K. team are on the same side.  As three "LT A-7 Corsair II" jets attack our team, Alex Sector is on the hotline to the President to get him to call off the attack - leaving our team to sit and wait....

Sierra Nevada and Miles Mayhem has carved his image into a rock formation.  As he is admiring it, Cliff Dagger is the one to bring up the business in hand.  When Mayhem has a go ad Dagger for his impudence, it is up to Floyd Malloy to intervene and bring his boss back to reality.

Revealing that the threat on Mount Rushmore is just a Red Herring, Sly Rax is sent on a different mission....  A sinister mission to destroy the Golden Gate Bridge.  Julio Lopez picks him up on his Radar and Matt instructs him to follow as he, Bruce Sato, Scott and T-Bob are closing in on V.E.N.O.M's not-so-secret base in Rhino.

There are two things here - 1. - why is Matt yet again taking his son into another dangerous situation.  2. - the picture of Rhino - there is no drivers door on it.  Not quite sure what has happened there.  Rhino wasn't part of the action in the previous issue - so no reason why it should be damaged.  In fact, in other cells, it seems to be missing the door.

Moving on from this anomaly, Matt then asks Scott if he can borrow T-Bob.  T-Bob takes umbrage at the fact Matt didn't ask him directly, rather than going through Scott.  Matt heads off astride T-Bob on a secret mission to get closer to the V.E.N.O.M. hideout.

In an unusually cruel comment, Matt Trakker calls T-Bob "Tin Head" as they are riding off.  I don't really get this comment - I wouldn't have thought this is something that Matt would say.

Meanwhile, Sly Rax takes to Piranha's submarine to enter San Francisco's bay to to attack the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Julio takes to the air in Firefly with a hunch that the bridge is Rax's intended target.  He has to take some drastic action and causes a lorry to jackknife to stop the traffic.  What will his plan be to stop V.E.N.O.M.?

Miles Mayhem revels in the destruction of Tunderhawk at the start of "Royal Rescue" Part 4.  However, the illusion of Thunderhawk being destroyed takes Mayhem by surprise as Brad Turner's Hocus Pocus Mask stops its projection.

Matt Trakker in Thunderhawk is soon on the offensive taking out V.E.N.O.M. agents.  All the time, Buddie Hawks is still tied up and hanging from the exterior of the Castle Tower.

It's at this point, if I were Jason and Wyatt from Agents of M.A.S.K., that if there were a similarity to my script I should point it out!

To the left is a page from my script whereby Buddie Hawks is in peril and hanging from a rope.

Ok, he's not hanging from the outside of a Castle Tower - but is in danger as he is taking a beating from V.E.N.O.M.  thug Cliff Dagger.

This scene is at about the halfway point of the script as we see new M.A.S.K. Agent, Annaliese Ziegler, make her d├ębut mission.

It was important that there is something; someone; new in the script.  If we were to stick completely to the original "Cast" of characters, everyone would already know them and there would be no surprises.

I'm quite proud of this scene and I think it works well - the select few people who have read my script thought it was good - one person going as far as saying the hairs stood up on their arms reading this!

Anyway, getting back to our "Royal Rescue", that is now becoming more of a "Buddie Hawks Rescue" - as Matt takes out the V.E.N.O.M. agents, Mayhem uses his Viper Mask to spit corrosive poison at the rope holding Buddie up.  Matt wants to blow the Tower, but he knows his agent is in peril as he plummets towards certain doom.

Matt jumps out of Thunderhawk and uses Spectrum's Freefall abilities to come to Buddie's rescue - leaving Bruce Sato at the helm of Thunderhawk.

As Mayhem makes a run towards Switchblade, Brad Turner again uses Hocus Pocus to disorientate him - creating multiple holograms of the V.E.N.O.M. leaders transport.  Cliff Dagger comes to his aid and uses his Torch Mask to back Brad off.

Once in the air, Mayhem's target is Thunderhawk.....

In stark contrast, Miles Mayhem and Matt Trakker are having to work together in Part 4 of "Inside the Volcano" - as Mayhem pulls Matt Trakker out of a certain doom situation.

There is method to Mayhem's madness - being held by the madman J.J. Kinsale, Trakker and Mayhem need to work together to escape their common captor.  They are soon reunited with their vehicles and continue on their perilous journey.

Meanwhile, Alex Sector, Bruce Sato, Hondo MacLean and Dusty Hayes have come to the conclusion that Matt has been taken hostage by the same persons involved in Scott's capture.  In an unknown disclosed V.E.N.O.M. hideout, Mayhem's henchmen -  Bruno Sheppard, Sly Rax, Cliff Dagger and Floyd Malloy fear a similar fate for their boss.

Thunderhawk and Switchblade come under attack from Missiles - they manage to evade them - only for Kinsale to release his "Total-Jungle Warfare" - as all the plants and trees grow they engulf both Thunderhawk and Switchblade as vines and branches capture and spread through the vehicles....

After a number of issues featuring bio's of agents in the centre spread, it's great to see the welcome return of a vehicle to grace the centre page spread of this issue of M.A.S.K.

Firecracker - what a great vehicle.  Although Hondo MacLean has been a regular the UK M.A.S.K. Comics from the very get go, he'd always been seen as a co-pilot of other vehicles - namely Gator.  I assume this was due to the toy releases in the UK.  Gator wasn't one of the first line up of toys - but Hondo MacLean was feature in one of he figure packs that was available.

It is a simple, yet brilliant design - even if Hypno-Headlights and Ice Cannons are strange weapons.  In the cartoon of M.A.S.K., they made a big deal of completely destroying Firecracker to introduce a "replacement" vehicle of Hurricane for Hondo.  This seemed a strange move - in the comics, vehicles are destroyed fairly regularly but they keep coming back.

We then enter a bit of an "Energy Crisis" as V.E.N.O.M. vehicles Switchblade, Vampire and Jackhammer are seen attacking the Mansion of a wealthy art collector.  Firefly, Tunderhawk, Condor and Rhino are soon on the scene and V.E.N.O.M. flee for cover...

However, all is not as it seems.  Sly Rax takes the opportunity to chain himself to the underside of Rhino to sneak a ride back to Boulder Hill.  Once there, he tampers with the Energiser Room to prevent M.A.S.K.'s Masks from being charged.

And so, V.E.N.O.M. attack a Gold Bullion Convoy to draw out M.A.S.K..  As our opponents face off - our M.A.S.K. team try to use their Masks but, as expected by V.E.N.O.M., they don't work.

As the M.A.S.K. team flee with no means to defend themselves, Mayhem and his team chase afterwards until they back them into a corner.  Mayhem, believing he has the upper-hand, is taken by surprise when it turns out M.A.S.K. have been stringing them along and reveal that their Masks are fully charged.

Explaining that, a computer scan revealed Rax hanging from Rhino and their cover was blown.  If not for Floyd Malloy on Vampire, V.E.N.O.M. would've been defeated, however, they managed to escape.

Matt makes a comment that someone should've taken a picture of Mayhem - luckily, the artist of the comic managed to do just that...

"The Drowning City" Part 1 sees the wettest English Summer in 70 years.  As coastal villages are engulfed by unusually high tides, an Oil Tanker in the English Channel comes under threat as it smashes into rocks.

Several M.A.S.K. vehicles are making their way to London after attending a P.N.A. European Military Training Convention.  They get a distress call from the Oil Tanker and Matt Trakker and Bruce Sato fly out in Thunderhawk to offer assistance.  As they arrive, an Air Sea Rescue Helicopter is already at the scene airlifting some of the crew as the rest flee in a lifeboat.

Believing they are not required, Matt is about to set back to land when suddenly a thirty metre high wave is about the engulf the lifeboat.  Using his Lifter Mask, Bruce Sato lifts the boat out of the water and they take them to safety.

Bruce fears that the tidal water heading up the Thames estuary will be enough to flood London - but Matt is confident that the Thames Flood Barriers will prevent that from happening.

Not knowing that at the same time, Sly Rax is being dispatched by Miles Mayhem to blow up said Barrier....

Another fine example of the UK M.A.S.K. Comic.

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