It has been a long time since I collected comics - a few decades have passed since M.A.S.K. and the handful of of Eagle and M.A.S.K. Comics. As this new comic is a US publication and not British, I knew it would be a challenge to even buy. I couldn't simply walk into any newsagent and pick it up off the shelf.
Therein lies, one of my challenges. I reached out to my friend Mark Hall from M.A.S.K. Eire to seek his professional advice. He gave me some contacts in the local area - when you live in a small village, local area covers a bit of a distance.
There is a comic store in Falkirk that he suggested - so I gave them a call. A good price, but would mean a 50 mile round trip for each issue (plus parking charges). A closer store is located in Stirling - a few miles from where I work. A bit dearer and would still incur parking charges to purchase.
In the end, I decided to go with forbiddenplanet.com - even with postage costs, it was just slightly dearer than the other options, but without the hassle!
My next issue was working through all of the various cover variations. I'm only interested in M.A.S.K. Yes, I love the Transformers and G. I.Joe Movies and had Action Man toys when I was kid - but, I'm not interested in collecting their comics.
So, I had to filter out covers that feature M.A.S.K. related characters/vehicles/Masks/etc. Quite a challenge as many of the cover art I couldn't find. So I ordered a couple of variants - plus a spare copy for my son to have a collection of his own.
As I'd ordered online, there was a bit of a delay in receiving the comics, which arrived on 24/09/2016. I waited until my son was going to bed and chose to wait until then to open up the package.
I was quite impressed - forbiddenplanet.com had used strong packaging that kept the comics in pristine condition. Each comic was in it's own clear sleeve with a piece of cardboard. I'm not sure if this is how the comic comes from IDW, or this is just the care and attention that forbiddenplanet.com provide their customers - either way, I liked it.
Normally in my reviews, I'd talk about the cover first - but I think I'll leave that to last this time.
The artwork in the comic is great. I like the black pages instead of the white pages that I grew up with as a child. Makes the comic feel more expensive giving it a very good quality which I have to admire.
Much of the story line is set in an outside environment and it's raining. The way that the artist has captured the characters in the rain is very atmospheric and is one of the best things about the artwork.
Unfortunately, the actual story line let the comic down. It's very much a story of The Transformers versus G. I. Joe with a small cameo from Action Man and Rom.
Anyone who knows me, will know that I have my reservations about the mixed Multiverse route that Hasbro and IDW are imposing on us. Following on the footsteps of Marvel's success with the Avengers and standalone movies.
When it comes to Marvel's Avengers, they are an ensemble of some of the greatest superheroes in the comic universe and now in the Movie universe. Bringing them together as a team.
However, in The Transformers, we already have a team of Autobots versus Decepticons. We already have the teams of G.I. Joe Versus Cobra. And, best of all, we already have M.A.S.K. versus V.E.N.O.M.
By bringing all of these things together is just a jumble of teams that could easily trip over each other. I mean, how are humans going to stand up to Transformers or Rom?
Hasbro/IDW should've kept them all separate entities or created two universes - one for the Aliens (Transformers, Rom, Micronauts) and one for the Humans (M.A.S.K., G. I. Joe, Action Man). The Human elements are believable. Their vehicles are believable. Their equipment is believable.
From a storytelling point of view, some of the issues that I foresaw with Revolution have come true. The main issue being - no M.A.S.K.
There are too many elements that not every character or vehicle, etc. could be in the same story line. Trying to shoehorn all the various Franchise's into a 5 part comic, was always going to be a challenge.
In reality, Action Man only has a small cameo in the first few pages. This role could easily have been filled by one of the many G. I. Joe characters and their would've been no need for him to be there.
The G. I. Joe team jump to a ridiculous unfounded conclusion that The Transformers are up to no good and attack them as they are carrying out humanitarian aid.
If I were a G. I. fan - I'd be annoyed that my favourite characters are being portrayed as dicks.
If I were a Transformers Fan - I'd be annoyed that my favourite characters are being portrayed as the criminals of the story line.
However, as much as I like Transformers and G. I. Joe, I'm only interested in the movies now - their comics, toys, etc. do nothing for me.
What I am; is a M.A.S.K. fan through and through. I'm annoyed that they do not feature in this comic. However, I wasn't surprised by that revelation. As I said above, there are too many characters trying to be crammed into this 5 part comic - and that was/is going to be one of the biggest issues.
So why the covers?
As I mentioned, I researched hard to find out which issues I needed to buy for the M.A.S.K. characters. I bought one that has Brad Turner on it and another with Matt Trakker. Yet, these characters do not appear in this comic.
But it isn't just that. On one of the covers, we have the original Optimus Prime. The one from my childhood. The real Optimus Prime. This isn't the Optimus Prime that we see inside the comic. The same for the other characters on this cover.
I mentioned in my last blog post that I was going to have similar gripes with my reviews of these comics. The gripe that I'm referring to - is the covers.
The cover art itself is great - on both versions of the comic that I purchased. However, it doesn't fit the with the art nor the story inside.
To me, this is wrong. As I said, I'm buying these comics online - I don't have the luxury of flicking through the comic before I purchase. I'm buying these comics because they have images of M.A.S.K. Characters on them. I'm buying these comics because the cover is, falsely, advertising that these characters are in the comic.
If I bought any other item and the box/cover showed something different from what was contained within, wouldn't I have the right to take legal action?
I see these covers as being dishonest and not representative of the comic within.
On top of that, on the inside back cover there is a list of all the variable covers. Whilst doing my research before I ordered, I only came across about 5 variations. However, the total number of cover options far exceeded that.
Nineteen! Yes, Nineteen; 19; XIX. It doesn't matter which way your write the number, that is a ridiculous number of covers - for just one, not very good, comic.
So, if you are a collector, and many of you are, you will most likely want all 19 variations. 19 issues times $3.99 for each issue is a whopping $75.81! That's not including the Postage and Packing and any other costs you are going to incur in order to source all of these covers.
In my day, we had one great cover that reflected a brilliant comic within. Perhaps IDW should've paid more attention to getting the comic right instead of bombarding us with covers that have no relation to the rest of the comic.
In conclusion - the art was good, but the story was disjointed and not very good with covers not representative of the comic within.
If I were giving this a mark based on being a comic fan - I'd be stretched to give it a 3 out of 5 - most of this is for the artwork. As a M.A.S.K. fan, I would give it a 0 out of 5 and I'd be tempted to send it back and ask for a full refund.
Awful. Absolutely, awful.