Written by Serge Lehman | Art by Stephane Crety, Julien Hugonnard-Bert | Published by Titan Comics
Masked is another of those handpicked books by the Titan editorial team from the vast material out there in Europe. Usually lacking any character or creator recognition, these books have to get by on good looks alone, so you know the editorial team would have chosen only top quality books they think will succeed.
The first two issues of this book have been pretty good. We have been following our ‘hero’, Frank Braffort, and his efforts to settle in a futuristic Paris, Paritropolis, after being unceremoniously kicked out of the military. Unfairly, as flashbacks showed us. Paritropolis, a city of flying cars and giant television screens the size of a skyscraper wall, has also been caught up in an odd invasion by ‘anomalies’, mysterious metal entities who are terrorising the city and its inhabitants. A military force has been assembled, led by Frank’s old Army colleague Duroc, but if Frank thinks he can remain out of the way, or they think it’s going to be as simple as that, well…
As events quickly reveal in this issue, not only can Frank not avoid involvement, he may very well become a focal point. Frank discovers he didn’t fall into that meeting about a job with Assan by chance, it was all designed to get him to a certain place, somewhere hidden away for quite some time. Frank is special, and one whipped up superhero costume later, looks special too. As Cleo and Assan persuade him of his specialness, the team led by Duroc has returned, and Duroc has also changed, but not for the better. Calling himself Rocket, he has turned into a gaseous being, wreaking havoc with abandon. He also takes the opportunity to kidnap Frank’s sister, Raphaelle, setting up a confrontation next issue I am sure between him and Frank.
The book has two main areas to discuss. Firstly, the world created by the writer and artists is incredible. The level of thought that has gone into the background to the story is simply staggering, and that goes for both the writing and the art. Although the writing invites us into this city and its inhabitants, it is the art and its visualization that encourages us to stay and take a look around. The detail crammed into each panel continues to amaze, as does some of the visual techniques. The long shot full page panel on Page 4 for example certainly has the wow factor. I can’t wax lyrical enough about the setup for the book.
The second area of discussion is the actual story itself, and this is where the book falls a little. The veteran coming home, fish out of water motif, has been done many times, but is a perfectly fine hook to hang a good story on. It doesn’t work as well when the story is a little confusing and hard to follow. Any time a book or a comic makes you flick back a few pages to see if you missed something as what’s unfolding seems to be missing a bit of context, then that’s either lazy writing or a little lack of discipline in the scripting. It’s not a terminal flaw, as the setting is so enjoyable you move on anyway, but is noticeable.
There are definite flaws here, but there is also a very enjoyable, if at times confusing and wordy, story. Although it doesn’t shy away from using various cliché’s, it does so with enough panache not to make the story suffer. I’m liking it without loving it at the moment.
Although a book still finding its identity, worth a look.
Masked #3 is out now from Titan Comics.