We have another fun cover that doesn't relate to any particular story in the comic.
On the front cover, Miles Mayhem is boasting that he has taken over the wraparound cover with pictures of himself.
On the monitors we see that our duo have now reached their respective vehicles and have taken flight to destroy the common enemy.
We also see a captive Scott and T-Bob - Gagged and tied up. Some might say that this is the best way to keep these two during any mission!
One of Switchblade's stinger rockets almost hits Thunderhawk and the two exchange words with each other.
Each knows how much they would love to wipe out the other - but they also know that to do so would halve their chances of survival - and so the truce must continue...
Matt detects a laser overhead that will prevent their escape from the top of the Volcano so the decide to continue through the Jungle to see if there is another way out of their prison.
As they continue on, a massive spiderweb is unleashed directly in their path.
Matt releases two of Thunderhawk's "Melt Bombs" that clear a path for him through the web. However, Mayhem is not so lucky and Switchblade gets caught up in the web.
Caught like a fly, Massive spiders make their way towards the stricken Switchblade and attempt to devour her. Mayhem unleashes his nose cannons to fend of the Eight-Legged Freaks descending upon him.
He then starts Switchblade up in Helicopter mode with the Rotar Blades cutting through the web freeing him up.
Trakker and Mayhem decide to land to "get their bearings" and find out from Mayhem that he's tried to contact his team but his radio is being jammed.
Back in his control room, Kinsale pulls a lever to make life even more difficult for his victims - an earthquake. A large fissure appears separating Trakker and Mayhem from their vehicles - as it does, Trakker falls into the fissure. Using Spectrum's Freefall abilities, he manages to slow down and attempts to climb back out.
As the fissure closes, will Mayhem come to his rescue?
During their "Royal Rescue" attempt of Prince Sabana, Buddie Hawks is down and appears to be out after trying to infiltrate V.E.N.O.M. to glean information. Fortunately, he's not as stricken as would first appear.
He manages to hit Miles Mayhem in the face with some snow and then gets up in an effort to get to Mayhem and stop him. However, Sly Rax and V.E.N.O.M. soldiers go after Hawks as Cliff Dagger's Torch mask fires and creates a barrier of flames between Hawks and Mayhem.
They take Hawks back to their lair, Castle Hotzmeir. When they get there, Buddie is tied up and and hung outside the castle as a shield.
Matt Trakker and Bruce Sato in Thunderhawk, manage to trace Buddie's location via a hidden locator bug in Buddie's shoe.
As they get close to the castle, a Helicopter with a Red Cross emblem comes up at their rear - but all is not as it seems as it opens fire on our heroes. Thunderhawk manages to evade the attack and circles around and blows the chopper out of the sky.
As Thunderhawk is within visual sight of the castle - V.E.N.O.M.'s anti-aircraft guns manage to blow up Thunderhawk....
The artwork in the colour strips continues to get better. I also like the use of the V.E.N.O.M. soldiers - it gives credence to Miles Mayhem's military attire that he wears and makes him look more like a general.
This issue's continuation of "Operation Vandal" is somewhat confusing. In the last issue, Matt makes a comment about following up a lead in France. The last two panels of said issue one would assume that Matt is on his way to France when he encounters Mayhem, but reading this issue - it says that Matt and Miles' encounter is far out over the Atlantic Ocean, on the way back to the U.S.
When you back to re-read issue 18's story, it was easy to mis-read what was going on.
As Switchblade takes on Thunderhawk, Matt releases some smoke to make it look like his vehicle is damaged and plummets into the cloud cover. As he does so, he releases a bomb that explodes in the water just as Switchblade makes her appearance. Mayhem, believing he's killed his arch-enemy, continues onto America.
Meanwhile, already in America, Floyd Malloy on Vampire is attacking a Castle. Although it doesn't say it, it looks like a Disneyland Castle, but we can't confirm this.
In another confusion - the rest of the M.A.S.K. team are already back at Boulder Hill - ahead of Matt Trakker. Two issues with this -
- In last issue, Alex and the team were meant to be checking out V.E.N.O.M.'s French hideout - so how are they back before Matt?
- The caption states "At Boulder Hill, where Alex Sector and the other VENOM Agents have returned from Europe". VENOM Agents??? Really???
Onto our centre page spread this issue and we have Dusty Hayes. Renowned for his skills as a Pizza Chef, Dusty is Gator's pilot.
With previous skills as a stunt driver, and handy with this Backlash Mask, Dusty is an integral member of the M.A.S.K. team.
The image to the right makes it look more like Backlash has sonic capabilities - like Spectrum, but his Mask is truly a great weapon as it fires Sonic Booms/Waves and can cause a lot of havoc.
Dusty is great not only in the UK Comics but also the Cartoons - he was always one of my favourites.
On a personal note, he is also one of my son's favourites as well - he's already mentioned that he wants him for his Christmas (thinking about Christmas already!!!)!
So, if any my readers out there have a Gator and Dusty Hayes they are looking to sell - can you please send me an e-mail?
I'd be looking to pay a fair and reasonable price - not some trader/collector price!
On his way back to Boulder Hill after a mission, Julio Lopez in Firefly is downed by Floyd Malloy on Vampire. Vampire lands and Malloy tells Lopez that he wants to fight him man-to-man to settle "A Matter of Honour".
He tells him to contact him with a time and place and then heads off. As he reports back to Mayhem, we discover that this is a plan to keep M.A.S.K. occupied whilst the rest of the V.E.N.O.M. team robs the Bullion Vault at the Santa Rosa Bank.
As Julio tells Matt of what has happened, Alex Sector intercepts "false comms" from V.E.N.O.M. with plans that they are going aid Vampire in destroying Lopez and Firefly.
Plans are set in motion for the M.A.S.K. team to aid their friend and colleague. However, V.E.N.O.M.'s resident idiot, Cliff Dagger, lets the plan slip over the intercom and soon our M.A.S.K. team are heading to the Santa Rosa Bank to scupper V.E.N.O.M.'s devious scheme.
All, that is, except for Julio Lopez who seeks out Floyd Malloy and takes out Vampire to settle his honour.
As I didn't collect M.A.S.K. toys, I was always excited when something new enter the M.A.S.K. comics -
When this full page advert hit the pages of my favourite comic - I was in awe. It's not just the quality of the image itself, it's the fact that Miles has a twin brother? Buddie is now called Clutch - that used to only be his codename - with new fatigues and mask.
I could only speculate at the two figures using a jet pack and helicopter pack...
Alex Sector, using Jackrabbit, has come under fire from both Switchblade and Vampire as he is crossing the English Channel with an antidote that can revert people who are now "Young at Heart".
Brad Turner is left in London to babysit Bruce Sato who has had a dose of the Anti-Maturity Gas and is in no fit state help. Meanwhile, Matt Trakker takes off in Thunderhawk to go help Alex, with Julio Lopez in Firefly as his wingman.
They engage the V.E.N.O.M. Agents and send them packing as Mayhem doesn't want to get into a "fair fight". As they head off, our heroes chase after them, leaving Alex to make his way safely to London.
In the Swiss Alps, Mayhem and Malloy disappear. Our heroes discover a cavern cut into a mountain and believe this is Mayhem's hideout where he is storing more gas. They fire everything they have at the cavern to destroy everything and everyone inside.
Unknown to them, Mayhem has a secret escape route and he and Malloy manage to get out.
Back in London, Sato has been given some of the antidote and makes a speedy recovery.
Another advert - for ASDA this time - featuring M.A.S.K. and Centurions toys. How great were the Centurions?
Anyway, although the picture features the original vehicles in the UK Comic - there is mention of a price for Raven and Hurricane! Vehicles unfamiliar to the UK Comic as this point!
As always, a great issue and great to get some hints of what's to come by reading the adverts.
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