Story: Cullen Bunn
Art: Eman Casallos
What They Say:
The influence of the fiendish Red Death spans history. In the 30s, she stood against the Shadow, the Green Hornet, and Black Terror. In the 70s, the Red Death resurfaced to challenge two surprising heroes–the new Black Sparrow and Miss Fury!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The opening installment of Masks 2 worked well in bringing readers up to speed with who was who and their involvement in this particular time period, while also setting into motion the apparent main opponent of the arc at the start with the Red Death. The world of pulp characters is one that is quite a lot of fun in general, but it’s not to all tastes. I’ve had problems getting into it, at least with some characters, but with this team up event series of sorts, it’s a lot easier since the interactions are what drives it rather than a singular personality. Seeing these characters working together, often not well, with a larger threat that really is challenge is what makes it exciting. When it’s bigger than just any one of these guys, that puts a welcome spin on it and really makes it a challenge.
This installment shifts gears, and to its advantage, by leaping forward from the 30’s to 1978, where we get to spend most of our time with Black Sparrow and Miss Fury, two characters I’ve not been exposed to much, if at all overall. Taking place in the Chimera Club, we see quite the party going on complete with costumes as everyone is dressed up in colorful things that has them playing at superheroes and the like. it’s here that we see Black Sparrow making her way through it, and among members of the Red Death with their skull masks, to get to the offices and the safe with what she’s after. There’s some decent action along the way and a solid bit of dialogue that makes it clear where her mind focuses on things with what she sees when it comes to the spoiled rich, and that makes it easy to connect with her. It all goes wrong when she’s accosted by Miss Fury, who is after the same thing.
Of course, neither is working for the Red Death, and when those goons show up to find out what’s going on, it turns to them to work together for a bit. This is par for the course and decently done, but it ends up spending the bulk of the second half of the issue with the two of them trading origin stories in far too much detail to feel natural or flow well within the context of the larger story. it does make it so that we know the characters better, which if you’re like me and don’t know anything about them, it certainly helps, but it’s just too much when it should be dealing with the events at hand. Which are interesting as the issue goes on as they make their way back to where the party is and, upon realizing it’s far too quiet there, discover that it’s turned incredibly violent and bloody. It’s a strong setup for what’s to come to be sure.
Shifting the series to the late 70’s, which people might gloss over at first, is definitely an interesting approach since the momentum was moving forward in the 30’s era. Expanding on just what kind of history that Red Death has definitely has its appeal, but it also makes you wonder how much will be accomplished in the 30’s era if it’s still around here. That said, this issue worked better for me than the first overall since it was more streamlined in dealing with just two main characters with Black Sparrow and Miss Fury, but it also faltered a lot more because it spent so much time on their back stories since they’re not as recognizable in general. I get it, but at the same time, the information is so easily at hand these days that it felt like it was stalling more than anything else, and it certainly didn’t fit the flow of the moment. Hopefully things move in a better direction going forward, though I liked a good chunk of this installment.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: May 6th, 2015