Death Mask–Storm King’s Dark & Twisted delivers with new crime story

Review by C.J. Bunce

Fans of detective stories are going to want to read the first book from Dark & Twisted, the new imprint from Sandy King and John Carpenter’s Storm King Comics.  The creative duo of writer Amanda Deibert and artist Cat Staggs have a powerhouse new graphic novel called Death Mask, a tale of a young police detective tracking a particularly violent serial killer.  In the spirit of Bosch, Harrow, Luther, and L.A.’s Finest, the graphic novel introduces Sonia Maza, a street-smart cop sleuthing out the murder of a cartel kingpin–and a few other denizens whose bodies begin to pile up.

Below find a first peek into Deibert and Staggs’s great new book Death Mask, courtesy of Storm King.

Deibert tucks in all the familiar tropes from crime stories, from the Law & Order cop quips to the slightly-overly blood-filled crime scenes of Medium, Harrow, and True Detective.  But note that this story is a stronger, more solid tale than the stuff of HBO-Max shows, despite the similar level of violence.

Maza could be played by Jessica Alba’s detective McKenna from L.A.’s Finest, and a key player in the story is a ringer for Bianca Kajlich’s investigator Henry from Bosch.  From the murder board to the police headquarters, the crime scene set-ups, burning the midnight oil for a case, bizarre murders, red herrings, and the cop’s troubled home life, it’s obvious Deibert knows her cop shows and tropes–she compiles them wisely for a great one-shot mystery here.  This is a fun read.

Staggs’ layouts, detailed characters, and set pieces remind me of Mike Grell and Rick Hoberg’s clean style, showcasing attractive characters, and balancing a lot of information required of a good mystery with dark action elements.  Despite the horror aura of the packaging, there’s nothing over-the-top or too lurid about the crime scenes for anyone who has watched network TV.  Where’s the “death mask” fit in?  You’ll need to read the story to find out.

Staggs’ faces are also easy to discern from panel to panel–a feature lacking in many current comic series, and her consistency and quality doesn’t slack for any of the book’s 143 pages.  Staggs’ pencils and inks only get better with each new project.

Add this to your pull list at Elite Comics or your local comic shop.  Co-created by Sandy King Carpenter, with lettering by Janice Chiang, don’t miss Death Mask, available now here direct from the Storm King website, or here at Amazon.  Death Mask is one of the year’s best graphic novels, especially with its consistent one-two punch of story and art.

Also coming from Storm King, look forward to The Envoy by writer David J. Schow and artist Andres Esparza, and the eagerly awaited ninth volume of John Carpenter’s Tales for a HalloweeNight, an anthology featuring 20 creators.  All are available at


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