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Just in time for the green-hued antihero to make a triumphant return for the 25th anniversary of The Mask movie, and cresting on speculation of a possible female-led Mask feature, Dark Horse Comics is bringing Big Head back in a new series stuffed with the character's insane brand of violent mayhem — and SYFY WIRE has a smokin' special look at the premiere issue.
Written by Christopher Cantwell, showrunner for AMC's Halt and Catch Fire, and injected with manic art from Patric Reynolds (She Could Fly, Joe Golem), The Mask: I Pledge Allegiance to the Mask #1 is a four-issue miniseries that screams into comic shops on Oct. 16.
This rowdy revival series also includes work by colorist Lee Loughridge and letterer Nate Piekos. It recaptures with brilliant boldness the true essence of the crazed character originally created by Dark Horse Founder Mike Richardson with Mark Badger, then later refined by John Arcudi and Chris Warner for the pages of Dark Horse Comics' Mayhem #1 in 1989 before launching into several solo series.
The plotline of The Mask follows the aftermath of horrific events that transpired years ago, when a bizarre mask of ancient origin and unlimited power was buried in the cement of an old apartment building’s basement floor in Edge City.
Its jarred residents have all but forgotten the homicides blamed on a mysterious green-faced psychopath known only as "Big Head." Now, decades later, the weird Tex Avery–style slaughterings are happening all over again and are on a direct collision course with a surreal political campaign where a grinning homicidal maniac wants to "Make America Green Again"!
Cantwell explains his associations with The Mask feature and why it has an odd place in the history of the character for him.
"I’m 37 going on 38, so obviously my first exposure to the character was most of America’s exposure to it — through the film," he tells SYFY WIRE. "As a middle-schooler I saw the movie and, like kids my age, was a disciple of that magic Jim Carrey year of 1994. But I was also an avid comic reader at the time, and I had a pull list at Big Bob’s Cards & Comics in North Texas, where I grew up. In the shop, I saw the original Mask and Mask Returns volumes for sale, maybe reissued because of the movie. I opened them up and was blown away by the stark contrast. I’d never read something so dark and raw, like pure chaos that didn’t give a s**t what you thought of it."
"2019, at least to me, feels like chaos — not the punk underground chaos of The Mask, but this roiling time when American society is biting its own ass with this insane viciousness, and tearing itself apart," Cantwell adds. "Bringing Big Head back now is like throwing a grenade into what is already a barroom brawl. Today he and his actions just seem less out of the ordinary in the contemporary American landscape. That’s what is truly scary about him."
Reynolds' first introduction to this story and character was also the Carrey movie, and he recalls buying the soundtrack (on cassette!) and wearing out the tape from re-listening to Cuban Pete. He believes there couldn’t be a better time for Big Head to return to comics, the ultimate agent of unchecked anarchy, to hold a mirror up to ourselves and see how far we've slid.
"I think that it can add a lot of nuance to the growing social and political commentary being articulated by other stories, in all different kinds of media," he explains to SYFY WIRE. "The insanity is laced with more gruesomeness than in previous iterations of The Mask, but I think that visceral lunacy is grounded by very well-written and carefully crafted characters. There's insane things happening all around them, but they are driven by very human emotions and motivations, which makes the series even more compelling.
"We know that Big Head is capable of ridiculous acts of violence, and I thought that keeping him in shadow added to that tension of not knowing what awful things he's about to do. I also think that a more realistic approach can ground the absurdity a bit and make the violence more impactful. Filling up someone with chocolate syrup until they explode sure sounds ridiculous, but seeing it happen as it might look in real life can create a more emotional impression on the reader."
Blast into our exclusive sneak peek at Dark Horse Comics' The Mask #1 in the full gallery below. The series' gritty, urban terror strikes comic shops on Oct. 16.