Writers: Kevin Smith and Andy McElfresh
Art: John Sprengelmeyer
Colors: Giulia Brusco
Letters: Andrew Thomas
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: September 14th, 2022
Kevin Smith (legendary director of ‘Clerks’, ‘Dogma’, ‘Chasing Amy’, etc.) has started the Secret Stash Press imprint, a new line of comics published by Dark Horse Comics. Secret Stash Press will feature books with characters from his various films, as well as books starring new characters. Kicking off the Secret Stash Press line of books is Maskerade #1, the first of an 8-issue mini-series featuring a new female hero more brutal than the Punisher, who uses every weapon at her disposal to cause as much bloodshed as possible on her targets. It all takes place in The Trench, a run-down disaster of a city that makes Gotham City look positively crime-free and squeaky clean by comparison.
Kevin Smith parodies TikTok, the rich, violent films, and so many other things in Maskerade #1, but at the core of the book is one woman’s quest for revenge on the people who gravely wronged her in the past.
And boy (girl?) does she get her “pound of flesh” throughout the book, as this issue, she takes down a wealthy slobby mob boss and most of his army.
I loved Maskerade’s character design. She’s covered head to toe in black, with a featureless mask with software that can duplicate any person’s face. She’s like “Maskatron” from the old Six-Million Dollar Man TV show, but with far superior tech.
The fight scenes are incredibly fun because Maskerade doesn’t hold back at all. She’s a killing machine using every weapon at her disposal. If a knife’s around, it’s guaranteed someone’s getting cut deep. If someone draws a pistol on her, she disarms them and uses the pistol to put a bullet dead square through the attacker’s skull.
There’s also a subplot with a fired journalist who will probably end up being Maskerade’s, Lois Lane. He seems like a likable enough character, even though he does an awful thing this issue that makes him far from an upstanding moral person. The pacing of the issue is great. We get an introduction and some backstory on The Trench, the mystery of Maskerade’s identity explored, another mystery involving a suicide (murder?), and lots of great fight scenes, as well as a great set-up for the issues to come.
John Sprengelmeyer’s art on Maskerade #1 reminded me of Darwyn Cooke, it has that same classic look and feel to it. It’s not incredibly detailed and a bit sketchy, but it gives the story a timeless feel. If it wasn’t for all the technology used in the story, the book could be set in any time period.
The fight scenes are drawn straight out of a Grindhouse film, with lots of gushing blood and kinetic-feeling punches. Maskerade herself strikes a formidable figure. When she makes her first appearance on a beautiful splash page, she looks sleek and intimidating, giving a “Terminator”-like feel to her character.
Maskerade #1 is a great beginning to the series and to Kevin Smith’s Secret Stash Press line of books. It’s got some great humor in places but also delivers some great action, a fascinating new anti-hero. Even though it’s a revenge tale, which has been done so many times in the past, the overall feel of the book is darkly funny, and the character is unique enough to keep things interesting. I’m looking forward to the next issue!