31 Days of Horror 2019 Presents Heroes & Villains: The Mask and Tales From The Dark Multiverse: Batman Knightfall

It’s time for an extremely tired yet still seasonally spooky Heroes & Villains!

I must admit that my Halloween spirits aren’t quite where they’re supposed to be at the halfway point of October and I’m trying my damnedest to get with it. Today, I took a stack of my favourite horror and horror-adjacent movies and stacked them by my TV with the intent to get through as many as I can in the next two weeks.

This week there are some great horror comics for your reading pleasure. LET’S LOOK AT SOME.

The Mask 2.jpgThe Mask: I Pledge Allegiance To The Mask #1
Christopher Cantrell (W)
Patric Reynolds (A)
Dark Horse Comics

Way back in the 1990’s I, like many others my age, discovered The Mask via the Jim Carrey blockbuster. The viewing of that movie always sticks with me because I saw it on the last day of summer, right before school started back up. It was the perfect escape for the day since school was looming large in my mind and I didn’t want to spend my last hours of freedom completely depressed. There would be plenty of time for that in my 20’s, 30’s, AND 40’s.

Later on that school year I happed upon a trade paperback from Dark Horse on which the movie was loosely, loosely, based at a B. Dalton or perhaps a Walden Books. It was one of those moments just like when I got my first collected edition of the Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics. I had discovered that the source material was far superior (and gory and violent) than what wound up on the screen. I was hooked.

The Mask: I Pledge Allegiance To The Mask feels very much like the 2018 sequel to the original  Halloween movie. Set 30 (!) years after the very first The Mask collection the killer known as Big Head resurfaces to dish out cartoonish violence on the deserving. It’s very much in the spirit of the original comic with maybe slightly more of a horror bent to it. Don’t expect to see any yellow zoot suits in the book.

There’s a definite air of menace hanging over the book as some of the original wearers of the titular mask can hear it calling out to them to track it down, put it on, and jump feet first back into the chaos of wearing Loki’s mask. Not exactly something one should be considering when they’re running for president of the United States. Or maybe they should, it would probably be a marked improvement. 

TALES_DARK_MULTIVERSE_BM_KNIGHTFALL_1_5d2c7e1f572e59.66595872.jpgTales From The Dark Multiverse: Batman Knightfall
Scott Snyder & Kyle Higgins (W)
Javier Fernandez (A)
DC Comics

I feel like there is going to be A LOT of DC coverage from this column this month because they are absolutely killing it with their horror offerings.

Longtime readers of H&V will know that I am an absolute sucker for a good anthology series which is just what Tales From The Dark Multiverse is. I feel a bit like Eli Cash when describing the premise of this book because everyone knows that Batman defeated Azrael at the end of the Kinightfall/Knightquest story arc in the early ’90s. What this book presupposes is…maybe he didn’t?

Set some thirty years after Azrael wipes the floor with Batman and maintains the mantle of The Bat, we’re presented with a Gotham that is solidly under the boot of the religious order of St. Dumas. Non-believers are executed on sight and Jean-Paul Valley (Azrael’s alter ego) has now gone fully Darth Vader in every conceivable way. I didn’t quite know what to expect when I picked the book up and I ended up being pretty pleased with it. The book packs A LOT of surprises and more than a couple WTF? moments in its pages.

Azrael has long been one of my favourite Bat-characters since his introduction in the excellent Sword of Azrael miniseries by Dennis O’Neil and Joe Quesada. The character had a pretty solid solo book for a great deal of the ’90s and even got a good character arc in James Tynion IV’s Detective Comics run from a couple years back. So, believe me when I say that this Elseworlds stylebook is one worth checking out if you’re a fan of the character and want to see a decidedly more sinister take on him.

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