Writer and Artist: Vincent Hunt
If you’ve happened to read the site on Sundays or the PoP Twitter feed, you may notice that were all about giving independent creators their day in court. The Red Mask From Mars came to our attention by creator Vincent Hunt during this endeavor known as #PoPCSR.
The title character of The Red Mask From Mars is Doug Stewart, whose origin is covered brilliantly covered on one panel on page 5. An invulnerable but very capable agent of Xenosphere with an alien permanently grafted to his face, Stewart helps his company defend the planet from hostile alien threats. Accompanying him during his exploits are the no-nonsense Sgt. Price, the corporate stooge Burke, and the squeamish Munroe. As Stewart’s methods typically involve massive property damage, he is constantly under fire from investors and subsequently defended by Xenoscope CEO, Lady Bethesda.
That paragraph (if not that last sentence) may give you, dear reader, the impression that The Red Mask From Mars may not be meant to be taken that seriously. Of you came to that conclusion, you’re absolutely correct. That idea is enforced in the art, which is this title’s strongest asset. As early as page 2, it’s easy to imagine the characters animated in a stilted style like an Adult Swim series. For what this book is about and for the overall tone, Hunt’s style is absolutely perfect.
The bigger issue with the overall tone is in the writing. For the most part, Hunt does a good job (as seen in the aforementioned origin panel). However, that style of presenting exposition in a fun manner doesn’t quite carry over to the middle of the story. There’s an inordinate amount of time spent on how much the board of directors doesn’t approve of Stewart’s methods, and much of that comes of dry. There’s a valiant attempt to save it in the form of Lady Bethesda, but the middle still drags. It may be safe to say that this may be setting up the future of the book, as much of this feels like it may lead to bigger things later on. Be that as it may, it still bogs down this particular issue. The last third, however, the story and tone pick up and become much more fun again.
Taken on its own, the first issue of The Red Mask From Mars is an imperfect beginning, but too much fun to be a bust. There are definitely some good times to be had with the book as well as potential for this to be a really fun read down the road. We’ll certainly be checking out more, but this initial outing of The Red Mask From Mars earns a solid 3.5 out of 5 Waldorf Salad Cravings.