Let’s start with Stanley Ipkiss. Remember? The 1994 comedy smash hit you loved when you were 7 years old because, well, Jim Carrey? ALLRIGHTY THEN!
Take his mischievous nature, and turn the psycho factor up really high.
After that’s done, move him from Eagle City to Los Angeles (because let’s be honest, it’s L.A. anyway). Easy right? Now, start lots of riots; blow up everything; kill almost everyone; fast forward about 70 years or so, while somehow feeling stuck in the past; find a way to act creepy and nonchalant at the same time; and become oddly obsessed with finding the one comic that’s really a book, that’s really a bible (maybe, I think). Congratulations! You’ve now sort of skimmed the surface of Masks #1, a new indie comic from story magician Daniel Warner and illustrator extraordinaire Matias Zeballos.
Wow! What a war-torn western celebration of mysterious sadness!
It’s like Stephen King and Quentin Tarantino made sweet dude love in a cave, and a whole population of identity-crisis-covered children came marching out the other side.
Our dark, quiet world sugarcoated in mystery and death is divided into two types of people.
The Maskless (straight shooters with well-revealed intention) and yes, you guessed it, The Masks. It seems that these shady types are the bread and butter of our massacre meal. Thankfully, though, the basic concept is merely an appetizer.
The story gnaws at a basic, enduring, and natural question of identity; however, our main protagonist does a brilliant job of walking the line between a likeable mystery man and a time bomb whose ticking pulls our eyes toward an explosion we can only hope to get caught up in.
The pacing might be overwhelming given that it’s a little over twice as long as your average indie comic, but I implore you, as the reader, to have patience. The burden is shouldered well with Zeballos’ seasoned and gritty horror-color choreography keeping you company. Think Breaking Bad with masks instead of meth.
I’d argue that there’s a little more time dedicated to backstory than Stephen King might prefer (even for Volume 1), but the influence of his Dark Tower hiding inside the panels is much appreciated. I’m also a little biased, because there’s a nice nod to my favorite indie comic—and favorite indie comic film—early on in Issue 1. It would be rather vicious of me to give it away.
All in all, it’s a slow burn worth the read.
The absence of the overall population strengthens the deafening knock of doom that overwhelms the reader. My somewhat limited understanding is that Warner and Zeballos wish for this series to expand 12 volumes, perhaps more. I certainly hope so. I want to meet the Masker. I want to get to know the Bookkeeper. I’m excited to see where the violence takes us. Most of all, I’d love to see where Warner takes such a relatable theme. Can we exist as solely deceptive or open? Do we need both worlds to coexist? Will human identity survive the apocalypse? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do hope that the story continues to take its time. There’s a bloodbath just waiting to occur, and the dark wanderer in all of us is dying to go for a swim.
A solid 4.5 out of 5 stars!