Friday, March 16, 2007

The Mask #6 (The Hunt for Green October #1 of 4)

The Mask #6 (The Hunt for Green October #1 of 4), July 1995, Dark Horse Comics
writer: Evan Dorkin
artist: Peter Gross
inking assistants: Barbara Schultz & Karen Platt
letterer: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Matt Webb
editors: Mike Richardson & Greg Vest

Let's be honest. Although this is only St. Patrick's Day Eve, because St. Patty's Day falls on a Saturday this year, celebrations have already begun. People are already chugging green beer and clogging the streets, having a grand old time I'm sure they'll regret in the morning . . . except for us geeks, who toil away on the Internet. So I read The Mask: The Hunt for Green October #1 to celebrate. At least I know I won't be throwing it up in the morning.

I can't explain the odd numbering sequence of this book. The cover boasts a #1, but the inside publication information opts for the description I offered above. It's the first installment of this arc, that's for sure, and that's all I care about.

Like many others, my only experience with the Mask is the Jim Carrey movie from over a decade ago, and while I wasn't blown away by the superhero slapstick (Mystery Men was funnier), the concept was intriguing enough to peak my interest -- not to mention the interests of America, thus warranting a second Mask film starring my favorite rapper Jamie Kennedy. Haven't seen that one, though. Irregardless, many casual views probably assume that the Mask mythos were fitted to match Carrey's exaggerated comedy performance. If this issue is any indication, Carrey's agility and enthusiasm merely made a Mask movie finally possible. It's really a chicken/egg dilemma.

Which doesn't affect my appreciation for this issue in the slightest. I like it. While the Mask may be perceived as a gloried special effect, unleashing an id most writers cannot justify in other genres or even with other characters, this issue asserts the Mask as a champion for social injustice. The latest wearer is a humble pawn shop keeper, who lost his wife and the illustrative use of his hands thanks to casino mogul Nelson Hathaway. His daughter is rendered mute by the trauma, and his struggle to make ends meet is only matched by his desperation to make her happy again. When someone pawns the mask and he, like the other weirdos that play dress up in their own home, puts it up to his face, chaos ensues, yet when the dust settles after a night on the town, we see some method to the Mask's madness. The Mask is indeed a hero. It's the means to that end that are suspect, is all!

This issue is masterfully illustrated, as well, which isn't a surprise considering the mainstream appeal this title adopted after its feature film namesake swept the box office. Dark Horse wouldn't put a dark horse on this one. Detailed background, expressive characters, and the successful synthesis of the supernatural and mundane secure a quality tale of the Mask.

I don't know why this arc is called "The Hunt for Green October," if it isn't just some Mad Magazine style parody. I mean, the mask is green . . . is that it? Green is an appropriate color for it anyway, as green represents both envy and fertility -- the blossoming of spring. The Mask elicits the raw growth of its wearer's inhibitions, while admittedly evoking a jealousy in those that behold its potential. Okay. I'm jealous. Who wouldn't want to just cut loose every once and a while, eh?

I guess that's what St. Patrick's Day is all about, nowadays. Putting on a mask and letting yourself loose on the town. You know, on second thought, I think I'll pass. I want to remember what I do tonight.

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