Sunday, December 11, 2016

Masked #1 Review

"Masked" #1 from Titan Comics -

     The city of Paris is changing, and not for the better. With the appointment of Joel Beauregard to the position of Special Prefect of Greater Paris, the city has gotten darker, more segregated, more tense, more violent. He is using his expansive authority in ways that are turning Paris into a huge, futuristic metropolis, but at the same time, these changes seem to be affecting the collective psyche of the people of the city for the worse. And then there are the anomalies - graffiti-like writing, tiny robots and mechanical monsters - that have been popping up, seemingly from nowhere, causing fear and havoc all over the city.  But the biggest puzzle is the masked humans showing up with super-powers. No one knows where the come from, or who they are. Ex-Sgt, Frank Braffort, was a Peacekeeper with the French forces working to keep the peace on the Georgian-Russian border. However, after a terrible attack that destroys his unit leaving only him and one of his soldiers alive, Frank is blamed for their deaths and court-martialed out the military...But Frank has a secret. That day he and his soldier were all but dead until an anomaly, a super-powered human, saved them. Now, a struggling private citizen of Paris, Frank wonders, like everyone else, what is going on with the city. However, when the Head of Security for the Special Prefect of Greater Paris mysteriously summons Frank to a press conference, Frank will embark on a journey that will begin with a terrifying face-to-face confrontation with a murderous mechanical monster out for the Prefect's blood!

    From the remarkable mind of French science-fiction author, Serge Lehman, comes this stunning, futuristic tale of metaphysical mayhem. From the outset, it is easy to see that this will not be your average, run-of-the-mill, skin-and-bones science-fiction story - one that has been simplified for the comic book format. Lehman takes his time and introduces his protagonist's past life correctly, helping the reader to connect with him. Then we while we watch the protagonist living a normal day in his life, Lehmam introduces us to the world he has created through media news reports, à la Frank Miller. I was instantly sucked into Braffort's life, and I was sucked into Lehman's gritty futuristic world, a world brimming with that familiar brilliance and heaviness of classic French sci-fi stories by writers like Moebius, or those fascinating old stories found in magazines like Heavy Metal (Métal Hurlant). Told in a cinematic style, Lehman's story develops slowly, but by the end, the reader is fully immersed, caught up on most of what's happening with the protagonist and with the city, and ready for the action-packed finale. Besides this, Lehman is choosing to deal with some pretty heavy metaphysical themes in this work - exactly what one would expect from any self-respecting French science-fiction author nourished on the works of the famous French philosophers. The question of reality is at the forefront it seems, what it is and how collective human consciousness can affect it, along with causality - similar to ideas developed by Descartes, Durkheim, and others, and oversimplified in the very fun film, "Tomorrowland." I just cannot wait to see how far down the rabbit-hole this book can go. If this all weren't enough, the four-page prose tie-in story in the back of the book is simply amazing, and in the comic story, Stépane Créty lays down some absolutely gorgeous, busy pencils that keep your eyes wandering all through the panels as you greedily consume the story and art in one massive feast for your mind. Lehman and Créty have killed it on this first issue and I am definitely sticking around for the entire ride.

RATING: 10 out of 10. This little quiet storm of a comic looks like it may be a sci-fi masterpiece in the making.

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