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‘Mask of the Red Panda #1:’ Advance Comic Book Review


Mask of the Red Panda 1“August Fenwick, one of the city’s wealthiest men, hides a secret life of adventure behind his gad-about-town reputation.  In reality, he stalks the streets and alleys of the city that he loves to defend those who cannot defend themselves.  Only his trusty driver KIT BAXTER, who joins him in his quest, knows who wears the . . . Mask of the Red Panda!”

Fresh from the airwaves of Decider Ring Theatre, every page dripping with chewy pulp goodness, Monkeybrain Comics has brought the adventures of the masked crimefighter to the printed (or rather digital) page.  Based on the long-running internet audio drama, The Red Panda ( has everything a fan of vintage period storytelling could want.  And now, Gregg Taylor has moved his intrepid hero into the realm of comic books in this three-issue arc.

Fleeing through the streets of 1930s Toronto, Emil Winter is chased by a pack of demons set on his demise.  But, rather than submit, Winter chooses to die and take them with him, blowing up the factory in which he hides.

After receiving a phone call, masked hero The Red Panda explores the crime scene, accompanied by his spunky girl sidekick, Kit Baxter (a.k.a. the Flying Squirrel), and quickly deduces that sinister mystical forces are at work.  And, the race to discover the truth is on!

To tell more would just dampen a great, fun story, full of mystical gadgets, infrared-vision glasses, and time-bending aristocrats.  Sure, Mask of The Red Panda draws on the same bank of ideas as Batman, the Shadow, and a handful of other pulp standards, but it does it in such an engaging and playful way that you can’t help but be drawn in.   As written by Taylor, the interplay between Fenwick and Kit sparkles, and her obvious crush on her oblivious boss serves as playful counterpoint to the stakes slowly being laid out.

Artwork by Dean Kotz is distinctive, active, and engaging, with each character being unique and specific; backgrounds and layout are crisp and active, with little or no visual clutter.  Kotz names Al Williamson, Gene Colan, and Bernie Wrightson as some of his inspirations, and you can see their graceful influence in every page of this little gem.

So, pick up Issue #1 and fall back into the Golden Age, two-fisted pulp justice. This is the first of three issues; it will debut from Monkeybrain Comics on February 27th, and it will be available on Comixology for $0.99.  And, check out the radio drama, as well.  This could be one of the best hidden treasures you might find this year.




Tony Caballero, Fanbase Press Contributor



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