- Script – Art Baltazar and Franco
- Art – Art Baltazar
- Publisher – Dark Horse Comics
An unorthodox rainbow of yellow and green hangs above a cityscape of pastel blue and pink. Puffy pink clouds float behind a scribbled sky of orange. In the big city below, the newly elected Mayor celebrates…by shooting fireworks out of his pants.
So opens the third issue of Itty Bitty Mask, Dark Horse’s low-key all-ages reboot of arguably their most popular property after Hellboy. After last issue’s mayhem at the zoo, the Itty Bitty Mask finds itself on the face of the newly elected Mayor: Clarence Middleton III. The Mayor immediately makes some appropriately wacky changes, such as turning all the one-way signs the same way (“My office is the other direction!” wails one commuter as a massive grinning green visage bears down on the motorway) and getting the whole city to run a 365k marathon in a bid to make everyone healthier.
With the help of Barbara, the mayor’s assistant, and the disgruntled little old man who keeps trying in vain to keep The Mask away from the world at large, it’s up to Herman Shazbert to retrieve his mask and put a stop to the Mayor‘s reign of misrule.
As evidenced by last issue’s zoo-wide Mask takeover that ended in an impromptu comic convention, Baltazar and Franco rarely take the obvious route. In the space of 22 pages, The Mask manages to commandeer a fireworks display, repaint the entire police force, reroute the main roads, run a marathon, swim with dolphins, multiply in height and finally eat the moon. In the best possible way, it’s as if Baltazar and Franco have a direct line into the imagination of a hyperactive 5 year-old. Each page is an exhausting explosion of color and creativity. Itty Bitty Mask is not a ponderous comic, but it doesn’t talk down to its target audience. It’s accessible and witty, which is a difficult tone to achieve.
Plot-wise, the Mayor proves to be just as fun a platform for The Mask’s nonsense as the little old lady was in issue 1 and the zoo-full of animals were in issue 2. Franco and Baltazar continue to explore the furthest reaches of The Mask’s unique set of reality-bending powers in a way that seems fresh, especially when the power-sets of every other superhero have been long established by publishers who deem change to be nothing less than heresy.
The issue ends on a memorable splash page. Poked by The Mask’s unique brand of outer space chaos, the hilariously named Moon Martians threaten the city. In the foreground, Herman stands triumphant. Having finally donned The Mask, he grins whilst wearing a zoo uniform and a flapping red cape. It’s quality stuff that sets the stakes for the final issue.
As is to be expected from Baltazar and Franco, Itty Bitty Mask #3 is a frenetic 22 pages of zany fun, the kind of comic book that gets passed around the family by sniggering adults who should (but thankfully don’t) know better.
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