Fans of Kevin Smith, and fans of the offbeat and unusual, have been keeping tabs on the Kevin Smith-led Secret Stash Press imprint at Dark Horse Comics. So far, it has offered fans a couple of titles: Quick Stops, an anthology series set in the world of Kevin Smith movies; and Maskerade, a crime noir about a cut-throat vigilante. The latest issue, number 7 (of 8), comes out August 9th and here’s a taste of this wild and woolly thriller.
Writers Kevin Smith and Andy McElfresh came out of the gate with this title like two bats out of hell. This is grim stuff mashed up with dark humor, smashed with even darker stuff. Ah, but if that’s what your horror radar has been looking for, then it must be pinging like crazy. This is high-octane horror more than anything else. There’s humor but it’s not there to lighten the horror load as much as it’s there to set up the next jolt. As long as you, my dear mature reader, know that going in, you should be good to go.
Our main character, Felicia, is a female version of every character that Liam Neeson portrays in movies now, a character bent on revenge and willing to do anything, literally anything, to exact vigilante justice. So, if you haven’t already, be prepared for blood to spurt out all over the place and, well, prepare for blood to flood any nook and cranny. You will see red over and over again. The artwork by Giulia Gualazzi is on point, and compliments all the action and horror, and blood. Colorist Giulia Brusco is quite adept at providing vasts quantities of the color red, which is, as I suggest, the prominent color in this comic book. You like red, well, you’ll see lots of it here.
No vigilante story is complete without the villain, or villains, getting ample amounts of comeuppance. You thought you could get away with that, Mr. Evil? Think again! Here’s a poker through your hand; and how about we saw off your . . . yeah, that should do it! In this issue, one of the Mister Evils in this story somehow escapes the cage he was placed in and, against all odds, has somehow managed to turn the tables on Felicia. There’s a good bit of high tech shape-shifting going on in this comic and it looks like one Mr. Evil managed to outwit Felicia with her own shape-shifting powers. That makes for a very interesting issue leading up to the grand finale. So, if you’re a big fan of Kevin Smith, this is the mother lode. And, if you’re new to Kevin Smith, especially his weird brand of comic books, you’ve been warned. Who knows, you might love it!
One last word, I sincerely do have to tip my hat to everyone involved with this comic. Horror comics have a long history and tradition. It’s not easy to maintain the pace once the scenario is in place and the key players have been set loose. No doubt, our main player, Felicia, is quite a force of nature. And all the baddies have what’s coming to them. This is a well-oiled comic, that really works, and that’s saying a lot.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Maskerade is published by Dark Horse Comics, available as of 9 August 2023.