MASK: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand: Revolution
IDW (September, 2016)
“Revolution” is an event bringing Hasbro properties into the same universe. This included Transformers, G.I. Joe, and obtained properties Rom: Spaceknight and MASK.
WRITER: Brandon Easton
ARTIST: Tony Vargas
COLORIST: Jordi Escuin
SELECTED COVER ART: Tommy Lee Edwards
LETTERER: Chris Mowry
EDITOR: David Hedgecock
In this continuity MASK is formed by Miles Manheim (aka Miles Mayhem) to help G.I. Joe combat the Transformers (and they think Rom is a Cybertronian from what I’ve heard of this continuity). Matt Trakker is now a young black kid Manheim takes under his wing. Also joining “Project Spectrum” is Sylvester “Sly” Rax, Gloria Baker, Vanessa Warfield, Bruno Sheppard, Julio Lopez, Gloria Baker, and Brad Turner. Also two people not from the original toyline and show who die anyway during training when Manheim doesn’t tell them their masks turn their ordinary cars into battle vehicles and both malfunction, leading to their deaths. Manheim even fakes people being killed to gauge their responses, an idea suggested by Dr. (Mind)Bender. Soon, the new Mobile Armored Strike Kommand (because apparently spelling MASK right was more important for Kenner) is ready to present to Scarlet.
Okay, I need to state that I don’t think this is a bad comic. While the idea of a shared Hasbro universe doesn’t make sense to me (it’s because of the intended shared universe Hasbro announced with their movies because Marvel Studios made it the in-thing for action movie studios to do–LEGO is actually moving Spinjago into modern times for their movie despite the TV series taking place in ancient times) the concept is actually pretty cool. The art is really good. The vehicle designs call back to the originals while the masks are cool upgrades in look (and the mask names are now their code names, which I also like–and would be confusing for Matt since he had two masks when the line first came out and a few more before it ended). The characters are also very good.
However, this is another property from my childhood, which means I want it to be good, but I want it to feel like an update of the original series. Instead we get yet another “I don’t care about the show you love” re-imagining. Matt is not a black kid while the actual black character from the original, Hondo McClain (who was the team’s weapons specialist and a high-school history teacher in his civilian life) is missing. I liked Hondo. (Also, old white guy Manheim is talking about his team, led by a black kid, as “slaves”, so that’s uncomfortable.) Julio is given Calhoun Burns’s “Gulliver” mask instead of his Streamer mask (it shot fire-retardant foam–plus Julio was the medic and cryptographer, and a doctor in civilian life), while Burns himself is absent. Brad has no personality. Gloria’s personality is closer to Vanessa’s and highly unlikable while Vanessa is quickly Manheim/Mayhem’s right hand and with none of the personality that made the original interesting because it went to Gloria in lieu of her more likable self. Sly and Bruno actually benefit because they have personalities. Granted, Sly’s basically Skull from early Power Rangers without the annoying laugh and gum chewing…and somehow more annoying, while Bruno is a “good solider” (or what some writers think being a good soldier is but as usual getting it wrong). MASK had a fairly large multicultural group, but Bruce Sato and a lot of the other characters are nonexistent. In other words, everything I liked about the original has been replaced with a brand new concept.
And that’s the issue. If someone who doesn’t have my nostalgic ties to the original asked me if they should look into it, I’d say yes. It’s an interesting idea even if it doesn’t need to be tied to these other series. However, this does nothing for my nostalgic itch. You may accuse me of being too tied to the original, and maybe your right, but it was a part of my childhood and what would drive me to become a writer. I liked those characters and I don’t see any of them here. The Syfy version of Flash Gordon was interesting but lacked the charm of the Filmation series I loved, especially in how pathetic the Hawkmen were, so I stopped watching it. I don’t care for re-imaginings. They aren’t updates and I’d rather see an updated take on the original, not something new wearing their clothes. I have two issues of the regular comic thanks to my friend and that’s how long IDW has to win me over. We’ll be looking into those over the next two weeks but as it stands now I’m not really into this. I’m just too attached to what I grew up with and this isn’t a proper update to that.