Tag Archive: Masks


Sorrow01-Cov-D-Sub-Hack    Sorrow01-Cov-G-Incen10-Lotay

Nothing in the past five years has been more fun as far as comic book events are concerned than Dynamite Comics’ ever-growing crossovers incorporating their huge roster of licensed characters.  The New 52 and Convergence events from DC Comics and the Secret Wars event from Marvel Comics are so much more of the same–pulling in dozens of titles and character crossovers over the course of several months.  All of these publisher events attempt to reinvigorate their brands–to bring more people in to try out the regular monthly series featuring their stock of characters, whether you’re looking at the Avengers or the X-Men or the Justice League.  Dynamite’s events also pull from their stock of characters, yet the publisher has managed to unleash something very new in the way these characters come together.

Dynamite’s Masks limited series introduced a pantheon of superheroes from the literary past: Green Hornet and Kato, The Shadow, Miss Fury, Spider, The Lone Ranger, Zorro, the Green Lama, Black Terror and The Black Bat (a second limited monthly follow-on series, Masks 2, is underway now).  Then Bill Willingham expanded and amped up the Dynamite characters with his Legenderry steampunk adventures.  Another limited series, this one introduced the Six Thousand Dollar Man, teaming up with a parallel world, steampunk era Red Sonja, Zorro, Flash Gordon, Green Hornet, the Phantom, and more.  It now has its own expanded event series of sorts with Legenderry universe monthly series featuring each of Vampirella, Red Sonja, and Green Hornet.

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But Dynamite’s best crossover event series may have just arrived with writer Gail Simone and artist Sergio Davila’s new Swords of Sorrow.  A dark prince has enlisted an arsenal of women warriors to defend his interests, including the well-known red, horned villainess Purgatori.  But a mysterious and beautiful otherworld woman called the Traveller has assigned various swords to her own select group of women warriors via the Courier, across time and space–from Everywhere and Everywhen to Nowhen–to defend worlds menaced by this prince.  Her heroines include Red Sonja, Vampirella, Irene Adler, Dejah Thoris, Jennifer Blood, Jane Porter, Lady Zorro, Milan Kato, Masquerade, Black Sparrow, Miss Fury, Pantha, Lady Rawhide, and Jana the Jungle Girl.

Leading a select team of women writers in nine Swords of Sorrow tie-in series and one-shots, Gail Simone has her challenges here, required to pull together more than a dozen main characters quickly, explaining enough to let us know who they are for those unfamiliar with them all, and set up enough world-building to let us understand how they all fit together.  This may be the best we’ve read of any series from Simone so far, as Issue #1 of the six backbone issues gives us all we need to get excited to see what comes next.  Sergio Davila’s artwork is as detailed and interesting as his work on Legenderry, sure to keep us interested to come back for more each month.  Check out the full checklist of the crossover series below.

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Masks trade cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re a connoisseur of classic superheroes, you’d be remiss not to grab the trade edition of Dynamite Comics’ Masks series for your bookshelf.  Inspired by a 1938 story by Norvell Page called The Spider vs. The Empire State, it’s an examination of pre-World War II Law vs. Justice, as nine classic pulp superheroes unite to fight a fascist political party blossoming in New York, bent on taking over the country.

Writer Chris Roberson looks at justice through the eyes of each of these classic superheroes, each having a different take on the evolving political climate, and how to deal with the story’s bad guys.  Where the original source material was a story featuring The Spider, here the heroes take a backseat to The Shadow, whose perfectly shadowy dialogue manages to allow him to steal the scene in each of the story’s eight chapters.  The book starts with a bang–a chapter we previewed here at borg.com in its original printing as Masks, Issue #1, back in November 2012.  Alex Ross provided the interior art for the first chapter, and as much as we’d hope for a full book featuring Ross’s art, artists Dennis Calero provides an excellent look at the 1930s with a very pulp novel feel.

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CodenameAction01-Cover-Jae Lee     CodenameAction01-Cov-1 retro key

Captain Action was first introduced by Ideal Toys as a large-sized action figure in 1966 to compete with Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, although both figures were designed by the same guy, Stan Weston.  Back then the figure came with alternative costumes, including Spider-man, Green Hornet, The Phantom, The Lone Ranger, and Captain America.  A five issue comic book series was published a few years later with little to do with the figure and his ability to switch personas.  More than 30 years later Playing Mantis brought a line of toys to the market featuring the Captain Action characters.  And next week, Dynamite Comics, the publisher known for its retro series like Green Hornet, Bionic Man, Ms. Fury, The Lone Ranger, and Flash Gordon, picks up the Captain Action licensing and is introducing a mini-series to reboot the character, beginning with Codename: Action, Issue #1.

Written by Chris Roberson (Masks, Superman), with art by Jonathan Lau (Green Hornet, Bionic Man) and alternate covers by artists Jae Lee (Before Watchmen), Francesco Francavilla (Black Beetle), Johnny Desjardins (Phantom, Green Hornet), Jason Ullmeyer (Red Sonja, Vampirella), Art Baltazar (Tiny Titans), and Lau, Captain Action is the new superspy on the block complete with gadgets, a Judy Dench-type head of spy HQ, and plenty of action.  Lau and colorist Ivan Nunes really bring home the retro spy look of the 1960s, complete with a team of agents driving a 1963 Corvette as their car of choice.

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BlackBat001-Cov-Campbell

You wouldn’t be off base thinking of Batman when you see the superhero The Black Bat, as their history and origin is linked in controversy.  Both The Black Bat and Bob Kane’s Batman derived the look of their characters from common pulp fiction renderings.  Both characters emerged at about the same time and the publishers Thrilling Publications and DC Comics sparred over rights until a DC editor who had worked with The Black Bat’s publisher mediated the dispute where both publishers could continue using the characters.

Which brings us to 2013 and Dynamite Entertainment.  Dynamite has the rights to publish The Black Bat along with the great pantheon of classic 1930s and 1940s characters we have discussed before, including the featured characters in their ongoing series Masks: The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Kato, Miss Fury, Black Terror, Zorro, and The Spider.  But don’t confuse the Black Bat with a similar modern noir retro-creation, Francesco Francavilla’s The Black Beetle from Dark Horse Comics, which we previewed here at borg.com earlier.  But both The Black Bat and The Black Beetle are different enough and similar enough that if you like one you probably will like the other.

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Shadow Year One Alex Ross cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Ever since the success of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, everyone has climbed aboard to use the Year One tag to sell copies.  Many times the Year One is not an origin story but a random early story that fails to satisfy readers’ expectations.  A successful twist on the Year One was Andy Diggle and Jock’s Green Arrow: Year One, but there’s also been Teen Titans: Year One, Batgirl: Year One and Huntress: Year One, Nightwing: Year One and Robin: Year One, and even Batman: Two-Face/Scarecrow Year One.  It’s not only DC Comics who has cornered the market on Year One titles.  We reviewed Howard Chaykin’s well done Die Hard: Year One here last year, and if you look around you’ll even find a Judge Dredd Year One and a Punisher: Year One.  This week Matt Wagner, writer of Dynamite Comics’s Green Hornet: Year One , takes on the 1920s-1930s masked crimefighter The Shadow in The Shadow: Year One.  The first issue of Wagner’s Year One creation kicks off the better side of Year One stories.

Wagner and artist Wilfredo Torres begin their Year One with a mysterious force referred to as the “Shadow of Doom” in 1929 Cambodia, where we first meet The Shadow’s alter ego Lamont Cranston.  He is in pursuit of a criminal called the White Tiger and this pursuit returns him to New York City, a city brewing with criminals for The Shadow to bring to justice.

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Black Beetle 1 cover Dark Horse

Previewed by C.J. Bunce

If you felt like you were left wanting after reading Before Watchmen last year, or if you wondered why Dynamite Comics and Image Comics were the only comic book publishers offering up good noir stories, then Eisner Award winning artist and writer Francesco Francavilla has your answer.  Dark Horse Comics is releasing his new four-issue pulp noir series The Black Beetle: No Way Out beginning January 16, 2013.  You’ll swear you’ve seen the Black Beetle before, maybe in old 1950s or 1960s pulps.  Not so.  Black Beetle is entirely a new noir original creation of Francavilla.  But he looks like he belongs in Dynamite Comics’s Masks series along with the Green Hornet and the Shadow.

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Tomorrow–comic book Wednesday–Dynamite Comics launches one of its biggest events of the year, Issue #1 of the new mini-series Masks, with story by Chris Roberson and painted art by Alex Ross.  We’ve previewed Issue #1 and readers are in for a beautiful book, featuring a stellar mash-up team of some of Dynamite Comics’ best licensed characters: Green Hornet, Kato, The Shadow and Spider, with even a nod to The Lone Ranger.

A new group of leaders called the Justice Party has taken over New York, and their rule includes the creation of a dark, masked police force.  Unlike a typical change in power, this new government is run by mobsters and thugs, swiping people off the street and throwing them in jail simply because the new police force has a quota, with no attention to actual justice.  Our classic heroes enter the picture, now on the other side of the law, fighting for true justice, and hardly no time passes by before their mantra is uttered at some bad guys: Crime Does Not Pay.

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