Writer: David Michelinie & Bob Layton
Artists: Dick Giordano (p), Bob Layton (i)
Publisher: Future Comics
There's a new masked crime-fighter in Las Vegas, but this hero is a decidedly ruthless figure, as a group of criminals are quick to discover when they encounter Deathmask during a late night exchange. Meanwhile an F.B.I. agent arrives in town on the trail of this late night avenger.
As far as first issues go this one does a pretty solid job of setting up what I expect will be the main character dynamic, as we have a lead character who appears to be quite troubled by the acts of violence he commits but at the same time when he's in costume he displays little to no reluctance at committing these acts. Now this change in behavior would seem to suggest that the mask itself is in part responsible for this behavior, and I imagine it's also the source of his power, so in essence we have a situation rather like the Black Knight of the Avengers who had a sword that could effectively slice through anything, but if it drew human blood it unleashed an evil influence that compromised the heroic ideals of our hero. Whatever the case may be I have to say that I was truly surprised when this book had our hero whip out a gun and start blowing people away. The scene with the goon on the escalator was also truly horrific, as was the scene involving the cement dust. If nothing else this opening issue clearly tells the reader that Deathmask certainly lives up to his name.
As for the art, I have to confess I was a bit worried by the opening pages of this issue, as while the work has a nice overall look to it, the polished sheen was a bit distracting. That's why I was glad when the more textured, and bolder look of the pencil & ink work arrived, as Dick Giordano turns in a very solid issue, with the scenes where Deathmask is using his magic to dispatch the goons being particularly impressive.
A pretty solid debut issue that introduces us to our lead and give use a nice look around at a couple of the early plots that Deathmask will encounter, as we get a look at a criminal mob boss who is in the midst of a plan the involves Deathmask, and we also see that our hero has an FBI agent gunning for him. Now this issue doesn't really offer up much insight into our hero beyond a somewhat cryptic dream sequence in the opening pages, but we certainly get a very good look at our hero's willingness to not only get his hands dirty, but his methods of dispatching the villains in this issue do leave one seriously questioning if this character is even a hero. Now I guess the name Deathmask is a pretty good heads up that he's not going to be your typical square-jawed hero, but I must confess I was somewhat shocked by the sheer brutality of this character's attacks.
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