Maskerade is a new series weaving social media, sci-fi, and slick cover art together for a promising start to Kevin Smith’s new label at Dark Horse Comics. The first issue intrigued me, and the second issue delves more into the TV and entertainment side of the narrative. Will Maskerade be stopped, or will we want her to stop once we learn how awful her victims are?
Written by Kevin Smith and Andy Mcelfresh, the second issue opens similarly to the first, with provocative social media star Felicia Dance blasting out a thirst trap. Pretending to be a minor, we quickly see her work pay off as a creepy adult shows up with hard seltzer. She’s playing it up for the camera, like To Catch a Predator meets TikTok, but soon things get out of hand, and tempers rise. It hints at what’s to come as we learn Felicia is willing to go beyond safe with these stunts, and there’s definitely some dysfunctional behavior at work here.
Much of the issue involves Dwayne, who recently decided to work with her. The provocative nature interests him, and soon they’re coming up with new ideas to keep the model of her show fresh. You can only do so many episodes before predators realize you’re trapping them.
Meanwhile, the death of an old woman who looked super young continues. The sci-fi elements are fascinating as we learn about future de-aging technology. It’s freaky and not entirely unbelievable. I love the unnerving way artist John Sprengelmeyer and color artist Giulia Brusco draw the tendrils behind the face.
One thing this series lacks, though, is stakes or danger for our hero. So far, the vigilante seems to break in, kill, and escape with little to no fuss. The bad guys are in danger, but you’ll be happy they are. Things are darker for a detective, but we barely know him, so the stakes are low when we find out he’s lost everything.
The art continues to be a major highlight for this series which is hyper dynamic and clean. It’s the Archer style, only in comic book form. When the action kicks into gear in the latter third of the issue, Sprengelmeyer keeps things interesting with high-tech helmet screens and quick blows to the head. The colors are generally very bright, giving the book a hopeful, positive vibe juxtaposing with the themes and violence.
That includes the final scene, which shows these characters live in an unjust world. A masked vigilante isn’t just necessary but born of corruption and murdered families. Even though the masked vigilante is doing some awful things to people’s faces, you’ll wonder if they deserve it. Things come into focus as far as the targets in future issues, which helps keep up your interest.
Maskerade #2 fleshes out its main character while killing more jerks who deserve it. One can see this lifestyle is dangerous but maybe addictive on some scale, which is depicted well here. Maskerade is a retro sci-fi filled with delicious dysfunction.
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