‘Masked #1:’ Comic Book Review

Titan Comics hurls its fans into the life of Frank Braffort as he and those in his French military unit fight for their lives. Writer Serge Lehman, winner of the Prix Rosny-Aine for Best Novel (F.A.U.S.T.) and Best Short Fiction (Dans I’abime and Origami), has his work translated to English for Titan Comics. The three-time winner of the annual French science fiction award presents an intriguing tale seemingly simple at first glance of the first few pages, and then quickly makes the reader realize that Masked is futuristic and filled with science fiction goodness.

Artist John McCrea creates a cover page with an upside-down image: a masked man flying high above the city. This masked individual isn’t referenced often during the first comic book in this series; however, there is an integral part played by this hero related to the main character. As the story moves forward, it’s apparent the masked one will play some important role in this futuristic tale, and perhaps it’s vitally connected to Braffort.

The story begins with Sergeant Braffort leading his unit on an unknown mission. His squad, labeled as “Peacekeepers,” are on the border of two foreign countries, and Lehman showcases Braffort’s intelligence as he identifies an anomaly with the local wildlife. Unfortunately for his unit, a dangerous, automated, futuristic-looking device bursts through the ground looking to annihilate everything it finds. This one scene highlights what the reader has to look forward to throughout the remaining pages.

After this battle, and an extended period of time away from military life, time forwards to Braffort’s return to Paris as he stays with his sister, Raph, while trying to get back on his feet. The scene in her apartment provides plenty of information as he learns how much has changed since being away in the military. Television can be projected anywhere, and in this case, above the coffee maker in the corner of the kitchen. He also finds out about a vigilante media network who broadcasts newscasts without anyone being able to turn it off, and also projecting giant holograms above the city.

Although this organization is upsetting to some in power, the “Special Prefect of Greater Paris,” who seemingly has unlimited power granted to him, doesn’t seem distracted by these events. Along with those against the Prefect’s power, there is a growing concern of technology. They’re called “Anomalies.” Some of these things “grew overnight,” and it’s undetermined how these things have come to be. Before this story ends, the reader will want to rush for the next issue to see if any more clues or answers are given.

This story was originally published by Guy Delcourt Productions as Masque Tome 1: Anomalies and translated from French by Edward Gauvin. Artist Gaetan Georges provides bold pops of color alongside more subtle hues providing nice balance to the illustrations crafted by Stephane Crety and Julien Hugonnard-Bert. Crety and Hugonnard-Bert draw highly detailed landscapes and stylish flying cars which help to separate this futuristic Paris from what a reader might expect to find today.

Masked #1 is now available in print and digital release.

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