Your One-Stop Shop For Ultraviolent Dark Comedy: The Mask Omnibus Vol. 1

by Brendan M. Allen

All the makings of an epic adventure: an ancient artifact is rediscovered; a mask of unknown origins, with unforeseen power and magic. But who knew that after donning this mask even the wimpiest geek would become an indestructible shape-changing super-tornado with a mind for mischief and an appetite for destruction? Equally adept with gun, knife, bat, bomb, pie, or bat-knife-gun-pie-bomb, a geek turned super-freak, The Mask cuts a crazed swath of cartoon mayhem!

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A lovable loser named Stanley Ipkiss finds a green jade mask. When he dons the mask, he gains extraordinary powers including shape-shifting, superhuman strength, and near invulnerability. Along with the physical changes, Stanley undergoes a shift in personality. The mask takes away his inhibitions and kicks his Id into overdrive.

Right. There was that film in 1994 starring Jim Carrey. The plot of New Line Cinema’s family friendly PG-13 story was based very loosely on the first two of three books collected in The Mask Omnibus Volume 1. Very loosely. The guy’s name, the color of the mask, and a few of the more dynamic scenes were lifted from the books. Everything else, well…

“It doesn’t matter who you are. Once you put on the mask, you’re a homicidal lunatic with a bad taste for bad jokes and seriously deranged violence. And nothing–but nothing–can kill you!”

The comic book story is much, much more violent and sinister than anything you saw on the silver screen. “Big Head,” as The Mask’s main character is known, is based off of dark comedy characters like The Joker, The Creeper, and Mr. Hyde. Ipkiss is an insecure, anxious character who purchased the mask as a present for his girlfriend as an apology present. That night, the mask starts speaking to him, because that’s normal, yeah? When he tries it on, he goes on a brutal killing spree, targeting all the people he feels have ever wronged him.

Killing bikers and thugs in the middle of the night takes its toll on Stanley, until Kathy finally shoots Stanley in the back, puts on the mask and becomes the second Big Head. Didn’t catch that part in the film? The cop that’s been half a step behind Stanley throughout the story, Lieutenant Kellaway, will be the third. Then there are a whole string of Big Heads beyond that. The mask itself is the character, regardless who is wearing it at any given time.

If you’re into seriously twisted, dark, and ultraviolent comedy, this is where it all started. These three arcs are quintessential reading for fans new and old. Back on shelves 27 March 2019.

The Mask Omnibus Volume 1 (second edition) collects The Mask, The Mask Returns, and The Mask Strikes Back for the first time in a single volume. Published by Dark Horse Books, (re)releases 27 March 2019. Script by John Arcudi, art by Doug Mahnke, Keith Williams, and Rich Perrotta, color by Doug Mahnke, Matt Webb, Chris Chalenor, and Gregory Wright, letters by Pat Brosseau, David Jackson, and Lois Buhalis.

Brendan M. Allen

Brendan Allen has probably had more jobs than you would reasonably believe. Dog trainer? He’s done it. Flooring contractor? You bet! EMT? Army NBC specialist? Road dog for a Celtic rock band? Yes, yes, and och aye! Now he reads comics and writes about them. It's a rough gig. You can follow Brendan on Twitter @SaintAmish where he mostly tweets about comic books and cystic fibrosis awareness.

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