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Cover to The Mask volume 1
|Publisher||Dark Horse Comics|
|First appearance||As Masque:
Dark Horse Presents #10 (September 1987)
As The Mask:
Mayhem #1 (May 1989)
|Created by||Mike Richardson
|Alter ego||Stanley Ipkiss (comics, film, and TV series)
Tim Avery (Son of the Mask)
|Notable aliases||Masque, Big Head, Loki, Green Guy, Green Head, Green Face, Green Joker, Freak, Clown, The Green Mask|
In comics and film version:
In comics only:
Appear as any person with second lifelike 'mask' of a human face formed over the wearer's green "big head"
In other media only:A cartoon-like style of reality warping
The Mask is a Dark Horse comic book series created by writer Mike Richardson, the artist Mark Badger, John Arcudi and Doug Mahnke. The series follows a magical mask which imbues the wearer with reality-bending powers and physical imperviousness, as well as bypassing the wearer's psychological inhibitions. It was adapted into the 1994 film The Mask, starring Jim Carrey, which was followed by an animated television series voiced by Rob Paulsen and a stand-alone sequel made in 2005, Son of the Mask. It was not until the films and television series were made that the character became known as "The Mask".
- 1 Overview
- 2 The Mask (comic books)
- 3 Specials, spin-offs, and crossovers
- 3.1 Walter: Campaign of Terror (February–May 1996)
- 3.2 The Mask/Marshal Law (February–March 1998)
- 3.3 Grifter/The Mask (September–October 1996)
- 3.4 Lobo vs. The Mask (February–March 1997)
- 3.5 Night of the Return of the Living Ipkiss...Kinda (September 1996)
- 3.6 The Mask: Official Movie Adaptation (July–August 1994)
- 3.7 Adventures of the Mask (#1–12)
- 3.8 The Mask: Virtual Surreality (July 1997)
- 3.9 "Angry Young Mask" (August 1999)
- 3.10 "No Mask Is An Island" (April 2000)
- 3.11 Joker/Mask (#1–4) (May 2000)
- 4 The Mask Omnibus collections
- 5 Adaptations and spin-offs
- 6 Powers and abilities
- 7 References
- 8 External links
In all versions, the story initially revolves around a magical mask which gives any wearer limitless power and an altered appearance, characterized by a large set of teeth and a green head. The mask affects the personality of the wearer by removing all personal social inhibitions, causing the wearer to become insane. The book was inspired by a combination of earlier characters: The Joker and Steve Ditko's Creeper, as well as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the original comic stories, characters who wore the Mask would become dangerous and cruel antiheroes at best or villains at worst with ultra-violent tendencies, even if this was not the wearer's original intention. When adapted into a film, the violence was toned down to make the Mask only as dangerous as its wearer. In both the 1994 film and animated television show, the main character Stanley Ipkiss was depicted as a benevolent yet mischievous superhero. The same is true of the 2005 sequel's main character Tim Avery, who is named after Tex Avery.
The title of the comic book originally referred to the mask itself and not the character it unleashed. In early stories, the character was referred to as Big Head; it was not until the films and television series that the character became known as The Mask.
The Mask (comic books)
The base concept of The Mask was created by Mike Richardson in 1982. It first saw life as a single sketch he drew in 1985 for APA-5, an amateur press publication created by writer Mark Verheiden. After starting Dark Horse Comics, Richardson pitched his concept to Marvel Comics comic book writer/artist Mark Badger, the outcome was the Masque strip that ran in the early issues of Dark Horse Presents. Badger's strips became increasingly political, and Richardson ended the strip in order to bring the character back to his original concept.
Artist Chris Warner was hired to revamp the character based on Richardson's original APA-5 drawing and created the definitive look for the character, that was given a new launch in 1989 in the pages of Dark Horse's Mayhem anthology. Aspiring writer John Arcudi, and artist Doug Mahnke, were hired to create the new adventures, which became the first very popular use of the character, "a combination of Tex Avery and The Terminator". The Mask stories from Mayhem #1-4 were later collected as the 1991 issue The Mask #0 and in a trade paperback collection as well.
Mayhem was canceled after four issues, but in 1991 Arcudi and Mahnke continued with The Mask four issue limited series, which introduced one of the Mask's antagonists, a mute brutish hulk named Walter. This run was among Dark Horse's best sellers; following it, the company continued a succession of miniseries around the Mask, with various antagonists and protagonists wearing the mask. These series concluded in 2000 with the DC Comics crossover Joker/Mask, in which the magical Mask finds its way into the hands of Batman's arch-enemy The Joker. The first major storylines and the Joker/Mask crossover have all been collected in trade-paperback and in a limited edition hardcover box set. In 2014, after a 14-year hiatus, Dark Horse started publishing a new addition to the original Mask series, entitled "Itty Bitty Mask". It takes an approach similar to "Teen Titans Go!" that is more silly and kid-friendly, unlike the graphic violence from the other Mask publications.
Original ongoing series
- Mayhem (#1–4, Monthly, May 1989–September 1989, re-printed in The Mask #0)
- The Mask (#1–4, Monthly, July 1991–October 1991)
- The Mask (#0, December 1991)
- The Mask Returns (#1–4, Bimonthly, October 1992–March 1993)
- The Mask Strikes Back (#1–5, Monthly, February 1995–June 1995)
- The Mask: The Hunt for Green October (#1–4, Monthly, July 1995–October 1995)
- The Mask: World Tour (#1–4, Monthly, December 1995–March 1996)
- The Mask: Southern Discomfort (#1–4, Monthly, April 1996–July 1996)
- The Mask: Toys in the Attic (#1–4, Monthly, August 1998–November 1998)
- Joker/Mask (#1–4, Monthly, May 2000–August 2000)
- Itty Bitty Mask (#1–4, November 2014–February 2015)
The Mask (#0–4)
In an antiques shop, a weak, neurotic man named Stanley Ipkiss shops for a gift to give to his girlfriend, Kathy. At the store he purchases an old jade mask which begins to speak to him. When Stanley wears it, he is transformed into a wacky, super powered being with an abnormally large, bald, green-skinned head and a mouthful of large teeth. After exploring his new abilities, Ipkiss goes on a rampage, taking revenge on those with whom he has a grudge, and earns the nickname Big Head.
After taking the mask off, Stan begins to realize what has been happening. His acts as Big Head begin to take an emotional toll on him. He becomes verbally abusive toward Kathy. She kicks him out but keeps the mask since it was a gift from Stanley.
Later Stan breaks into her apartment to steal it back just as the police arrive in response to an earlier domestic violence call. Deciding his only way out is as Big Head, Stan puts the mask back on and kills eleven cops during his escape. He returns home as Big Head and removes the mask only to be shot in the back and killed by Kathy, who has put two and two together and figured out the identity of Big Head.
Kathy takes the mask to Lieutenant Kellaway for safe-keeping. Kellaway, who had been struggling with both the recent Big Head murders, and organized crime lords on the loose in his city, disregards Kathy's warnings, believing she is stressed and not thinking clearly, and tries on the mask. Becoming Big Head, Kellaway sets out to take down the crime lords who have plagued his police career.
City dwellers, not knowing of the magical mask, assumes Big Head is still the same killer whose targets are now high-profile crime lords. Despite Kellaway's good intentions, the mask causes his methods to become increasingly more violent. Big Head encounters Walter, a behemoth-sized mob muscle-man who never speaks, who has undertaken a vendetta against Big Head for killing his employers. Walter never shows pain and is the only one who can injure Big Head to any real degree.
While fighting off Walter's attacks, Lieutenant Kellaway, as Big Head, becomes the target of a police manhunt. Big Head fights off the police and tracks down the remaining mobsters. When Kellaway's partner attempts to stop Big Head, the mask-altered policeman nearly kills his friend and colleague. Kellaway, realizing what he has been doing, flees. He removes the mask, buries it in his basement in cement, and vows never to let it be worn again.
The first half of the story following Stan as Big Head was originally published in the four-issue anthology series Mayhem and was then collected as the first part of The Mask trade paperback.
The Mask Returns (#1–4)
The crime lords send men to Lieutenant Kellaway's home and attempt to kill him. Kellaway makes his way to the basement in an attempt to retrieve the mask. But he is wounded before he can put it on and ends up in a coma. After the shooting, the men escape, taking the mask with them. One of them puts it on the wimpy driver, Nunzio, as a joke, but he becomes Big Head. Big Head kills the thugs and kills all of the crime lords, and becomes the city's preeminent crime boss. Kathy, realizing the return of Big Head means Kellaway failed to hide the mask well enough, knows that it is up to her to stop him. She dresses as a hooker, and Big Head falls head over heels for her. She tricks him into taking off the mask, pulls out a gun, and as Nunzio dives for the mask she shoots and kills him. Kathy uses the mask to escape and decides to go after the real crime boss (whom Big Head stole the office from while he was in Miami), Don Mozzo. When Don comes back from Miami, he knows Big Head is after him and he goes to get help from the one man who can help him, Walter. After Kathy destroys the remaining mobsters, she comes across and gets into a fight with the only man left, Walter. However, Kathy decides to throw caution to the wind and surrenders after deciding neither one of them are going to die and soon some random bystander will just come across the Mask anyway and tosses it to Walter, but he seems to have no interest in it. Kellaway, recovered from the hospital, drives his car into Walter, sending him and the Mask into the docks.
The Mask Strikes Back (#1–5)
Four friends, named Rick, Ben, Hugo, and Archie, all fascinated by the Big Head murders, feel that their lives are at a dead end, until one of them finds the magical mask by the city pier and brings it home. Realizing this was the source of their hero's power, each of the four take turns trying it on. They attempt to use its power to fix their lives but end up making things worse for themselves. By the end, Walter, having recovered since being plowed into by Kellaway, finds the mask in his hands and is unable to use it and, in frustration, throws it off into the distance with tremendous force.
This was the last series in the original Mask storyline by Arcudi and Mahnke. It was also the first to be made after the success of The Mask film and, as such, the violence of the earlier stories was toned down and the Tex Avery aspects were more prominent than before.
The Mask: The Hunt for Green October (#1–4)
The Mask continues to find its way into the hands of unwitting wearers. Ray Tuttle, a loser film-buff, and his daughter Emily, discover its power, but Lieutenant Kellaway and a group of terrorists who know about the mask's secrets are looking to take it from them. The title parodies the title of the novel The Hunt for Red October.
The Mask: World Tour (#1–4)
A new wearer of the magical mask finds his way traveling through the Dark Horse Comics universe.
The Mask: Southern Discomfort (#1–4)
In New Orleans, the mask ends up in the hands of Eric Martin who tries to find his sister who has been kidnapped by voodoo gangsters, while Lieutenant Kellaway looks for the mask so that he can destroy it.
The Mask: Toys in the Attic (#1–4)
A character named Aldo Krasker gets his hands on the mask which leads him to subconsciously embark on a murder spree. Lieutenant Kellaway joins the investigation so he can find the mask. Doug Mahnke returned to illustrate the covers for this series.
Specials, spin-offs, and crossovers
Walter: Campaign of Terror (February–May 1996)
In this four-issue, spin-off by original The Mask creators John Arcudi and Doug Mahnke released between February and May 1996, Big Head's arch-enemy, and indestructible Mafia killer Walter the voiceless, runs for Mayor of Edge City.
The Mask/Marshal Law (February–March 1998)
The Mask is applied to a superhuman serial killer as part of a secret government experiment which inevitably goes disastrously wrong. Marshal Law is called in to take down a nemesis who is not only immune to his usual ultra-violence, but can warp reality according to his psychotic whims. These issues were released in February and March 1998.
Grifter/The Mask (September–October 1996)
Grifter of The Wild C.A.T.S. is sent to Las Vegas to break up a weapons smuggling ring at a gun show. Trouble ensues when one of the tourists ends up with the mask, and Big Head causes a riot at the gun show by pulling a knife. Grifter initially mistakes the Mask for a target, but when the tourist's girlfriend is threatened, Grifter and the Mask team up to stop the smuggling ring. These issues were published in September and October 1996.
Lobo vs. The Mask (February–March 1997)
The alien bounty hunter Lobo is hired to find the "Ultimate Bastich", a being who has decimated numerous planets. Lobo's hunt leads him to Earth, where a petty thief has become Big Head. In a battle that decimates Manhattan, Big Head finally offers to "help" Lobo find the "previous wearer."
The duo head through space causing mass destruction. At a space truck stop, Lobo eventually wins the mask for himself, puts it on, and causes even more damage. A black hole sends him back in time by a month and it turns out that he is, in fact, the Ultimate Bastich. Waking up on Earth and realizing this, Lobo tosses the mask back to the same spot where the thief found it. Lobo breaks the time loop when he meets his past self and turns his past self in for the reward money.
Former Mask comic team John Arcudi and Doug Mahnke returned for these books, along with Lobo writer Alan Grant.
Night of the Return of the Living Ipkiss...Kinda (September 1996)
After Kathy visits Ipkiss' grave, he returns from the dead as a zombie Big Head, with a thirst for revenge. Walking around the city, he finds and kills Kellaway, Walter, Don Mozzo, Lionel, many police officers, and a biker. When he finally finds Kathy, she yells at him, telling him that he does not have the mask anymore and he could not have come back to life. After that, he becomes a pile of dust and all the individuals he murdered are brought back to life. From A Decade of Dark Horse #3, published September 1996.
The Mask: Official Movie Adaptation (July–August 1994)
The Mask: Official Movie Adaptation, was a two-issue comic book adaptation of the 1994 film starring Jim Carrey. In addition to retelling the story of the first movie, this comic book version contains short moments of the story which were edited out of the final film. This includes the deleted scenes most often seen as extra features in video releases of The Mask, most significantly, the death of supporting character Peggy Brandt. It also includes completely unseen moments such as Stanley Ipkiss' watch being stolen by the same group of thugs that he pays back with the balloon animal routine, and dialog by the mechanics right before they are burst in upon by The Mask. Some dialog is also changed. In this version, Stanley is more of the shy, clumsy version from the animated series. These volumes were published in July and August 1994.
Adventures of the Mask (#1–12)
Following the success of the first Mask movie, which led to the release of The Mask: Animated Series, Dark Horse published this spinoff comic series which followed the continuity of the television cartoon. Like the television show, this title combined elements of both the original adult comics and the Jim Carrey movie. Elements from the film included The Mask as Jim Carrey portrayed him in the film: goofy and heroic with his trademark yellow suit. From the early comics were Walter, still Pretorius' Henchman, and a Lieutenant Kellaway more like his original counterpart than as he was depicted in film.
This series ran monthly from January 1996 until December of the same year.
The Mask: Virtual Surreality (July 1997)
The Mask: Virtual Surreality is a collection of stories by different authors. Stanley Ipkiss watches his favorite TV show The Dukes of Hazzard when a commercial broadcast of Dr. Buzz Hedgaymes offers a new gadget for home entertainment - Virtual Surreality. Dr. Hedgaymes offers The Mask a chance to test his new machine. Stanley takes up the offer, puts on the mask, and spins to Dr. Hedgaymes' lab within moments. The Mask arrives just as Hedgaymes begins to explain the machine, all the while testing it. Various events including barbarians, superheroes, and weird cartoons to demons suddenly play with The Mask in Ipkiss' childhood. After noting discrepancies with Stanley's actual mother, The Mask discovers that Pretorius was Hedgaymes all along. Pretorius challenges The Mask to play Rock Paper Scissors. Pretorius foresees the outcome, decides not to play fair and, using giant scissors, tries to cut The Mask's head off. The Mask counters with a giant hand made out of stone. The Mask opts to go for another round of Dukes of Hazzard before sending Pretorius to the police. This issue was published on July 16, 1997.
"Angry Young Mask" (August 1999)
The "Angry Young Mask" is a short comic book story focusing on an 11-year-old boy named Ned, who has a problem with his unfair parents. One day he finds the Mask and wears it, causing a lot of mischief in the process. Later Ned removes the Mask and throws it in his backyard. But when morning comes, Ned finds his two-year-old brother Josh wearing the Mask. This story appeared in Dark Horse Presents Annual-1999-DHP Jr., published on August 11, 1999.
"No Mask Is An Island" (April 2000)
On hill roads at night a professor of anthropology tells a young museum collector the history about the mask and its victims.
A depressed airplane pilot, smoking in a cargo area, finds the mask and goes insane. He flies and crashes an aircraft into a mountain killing the rest of his crew. He survives and, after removing the mask, becomes a resident of a mental institution.
Later at the crash site, a little girl living on a nearby farm, finds the mask and races home to show her abusive drunken father. That night the girl wears the mask and murders her father. She then calls the police to a report a green-faced lunatic. Afterwards the girl is sent to a foster home with kindly foster parents. She goes to a church for confession and the priest takes the mask for safe keeping. A short time later he dons the mask and becomes a sex-crazed maniac with the nuns.
After the church's unsuccessful attempt at exorcism, the priest sadly removes the mask and claims that the mask forced him to do unspeakable things. The church hires a professor to trace the mask's origins and he discovers it is a thousand years old, made using African techniques, but decorated with Scandinavian motifs. After analyzing the mask, the professor can not give the church an explanation for it so they decide to destroy it. But the professor finds a museum which is willing to donate a small fortune to acquire the mask.
The young museum collector does not really believe the professor's story and puts the mask back in a box as they head for the city - presumably Gotham.
"No Mask is an Island" originally appeared in Dark Horse Presents #153 published on April 19, 2000. It was also published in Adventures of the Mask Omnibus which collected all of the "Mask" stories based on the movie and the animated TV series. It was released on July 15, 2009.
Joker/Mask (#1–4) (May 2000)
The Joker inadvertently gets his hands on the magical mask after it is found in a Gotham City museum. With its power, the Joker begins to feel a it is time to rejuvenate his career as a criminal, taking over Gotham TV and broadcasting his own shows. Lieutenant Kellaway finds his way to Gotham and helps Batman and Commissioner Gordon to defeat the newly super-powered Joker, Batman determining that the mask is not having its usual psychological effect on the wearer as the Joker always expressed his 'innermost desires', with the mask merely making him unstoppable. Batman is able to trick the Joker into removing the Mask by claiming that the villain is no longer funny, and is relying on tired schtick and the power of the Mask instead of using his own style, prompting the Joker's original head to emerge from his shoulder and actually converse with his Mask-head before he takes it off. Lieutenant Kellaway asks Batman to give him the Mask. Batman agrees and the Mask is last seen as Kellaway digs up Stanley Ipkiss's grave and buries the Mask there with his corpse.
The Mask Omnibus collections
Recently, Dark Horse has published two trade paperbacks collecting The Mask stories in chronological order. However, it should be noted that this collection does not reprint bonus materials previously released in the individual trade paperbacks for the individual series, such as deleted pages, author forwards, and retrospectives.
The Mask Omnibus Volume 1
Collects The Mask #0–4, The Mask Returns #1–4, and The Mask Strikes Back #1–5. Published August 13, 2008.
The Mask Omnibus Vol. 2
Collects The Mask: The Hunt for Green October #1–4, The Mask: World Tour #1–4, The Mask: Southern Discomfort #1–4, Night of the Return of the Living Ipkiss...Kinda, and The Mask: Toys in the Attic #1–4. Published March 11, 2009.
Adventures of the Mask Omnibus
Collects The Mask: Official Movie Adaptation, Adventures of the Mask (#1–12), "The Mask: Virtual Surreality", "Angry Young Mask" and "No Mask Is An Island". Published July 15, 2009.
Adaptations and spin-offs
The Mask (1994)
A film version of The Mask was released in the United States on July 29, 1994, starring Jim Carrey in the title role. Directed by Chuck Russell, the film co-starred Peter Greene as Dorian Tyrell, Peter Riegert as Lt. Mitch Kellaway, Orestes Matacena as Niko, Richard Jeni as Charlie Schumacher, Amy Yasbeck as Peggy Brandt, and Cameron Diaz, in her screen debut, as Tina Carlyle. Ben Stein has a cameo role as Dr. Arthur Neuman.
While there were early efforts to take the film in the direction of horror (some at New Line Cinema saw it as a replacement for their fading A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise), it was never completely intended as a "dark horror" picture. New Line had problems coming up with a script that could show violence that was comical, but had more success with a story that had comedy that was violent. Richardson always pushed in the direction of the Tex Avery concept which was eventually adopted, despite the efforts of several potential directors, including, initially, Chuck Russell, to make the picture in the horror genre. Richardson also resisted early attempts to attach both Martin Short and Rick Moranis to the lead role. Mike Deluca's suggestion of Jim Carrey for the lead, together with Mark Verheiden's "Cuban Pete" production number, set the final tone for the film.
The plot of the film was loosely based on the first half of the Arcudi/Mahnke comic book miniseries. It uses only a few scenes from the comic, including the scenes of the muffler mechanics, the street gang, and balloon animals.
Mike Richardson's comic origin for the character came from the ancestor worship of ancient Africans that formed the basis for the voodoo that came centuries later. In the film, however, the Loki-based origin was grafted on in Chuck Russell's screenplay. A deleted scene is featured on the DVD, where a band of Vikings drag a chest containing the mask onto the shores of North America which was also depicted in the Dark Horse Comics two-part comic book adaptation of the film.
The Mask: Animated Series (1995–97)
The film version of the character subsequently appeared in an animated TV series entitled The Mask (with Rob Paulsen as Stanley Ipkiss/The Mask) and his own short-run comic book series based upon the TV series, Adventures of The Mask. John Arcudi wrote season one's "How Much is That Dog in the Tin Can" and season three's "The Goofalotatots" (a parody of Warner Bros.' Animaniacs). Much as with the Beetlejuice animated series before it, The Mask TAS took many elements from the source film but made numerous changes. Tina was absent, and reporter Peggy Brandt had become the main female character, but not a love interest. Also unlike in the film, Ipkiss appeared to be able to use the mask in daytime as well as at night. The series also had a crossover with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, another animated series based on a Jim Carrey film.
Four VHS volumes of the series were released (an extra two in Australia), all of which are now out of print. Upon the initial DVD release of the Son of the Mask, Wal-Mart stores sold an exclusive two-pack of the film with the pilot episode of the animated series ("The Mask Is Always Greener On the Other Side" Parts 1 & 2).
Son of the Mask (2005)
Son of the Mask is the poorly received stand-alone sequel to the film, directed by Lawrence Guterman. The film had a $84 million budget and a $17 million domestic box office gross, along with a $40 million foreign box office gross.
Director Chuck Russell, who helmed the original film, expressed his interest in a sequel in his 1996 LaserDisc commentary. He was hoping Carrey would return, along with Amy Yasbeck. Russell had decided to cut the scenes when Peggy dies and leave the character open for the sequel, which became this film. The concept was completely changed when Carrey decided not to return, instead focusing on another man (played by Jamie Kennedy) who finds the mask and unintentionally conceives a child while wearing it. The result is a son who possesses the powers of the mask without needing to wear it. At the same time, Loki (played by Alan Cumming), the Norse God and original creator of the mask, searches the human world attempting to find it.
Ben Stein reprises his role of Dr. Arthur Neuman from the first film. He is involved in the film to reestablish the relationship between the mask and its creator, Loki. He is the only actor to appear in both films as well as the animated series.
Powers and abilities
In the original comics, the mask grants the user superhuman physical attributes and intelligence, a healing factor, the ability to look like other people, and the ability to create objects out of thin air. A perfect example of the mask's almost omnipotent powers happened when The Mask managed to swallow whole an entire hulking alien mutant invader by shapeshifting his head and mouth to gigantic sizes. The alien found himself bound by chains in the cave-like stomach system of The Mask and he encountered a cannibal caricature of The Mask, ready to devour him alive.
- Superpower mimicry
- Shapeshifting: powers include elasticity, self transmutation, duplication, biological manipulation and size-shifting
- In the animated series, The Mask is portrayed as invincible, being almost completely impervious to attacks from his foes. The only exception to this is when he gets sick with a cold.
- While in original film the mask couldn't be worn during the daytime, this was retconned in subsequent media and never true in the comics.
The Mask also travels in a similar way to Taz by propelling himself to tornado speed. It was proven to be a devastating combination of brute force and speed that allowed him to instantly kill eleven cops when the tornado hit them.
His only weakness is also his strongest weapon, a very unstable condition of mind. The masked individual goes completely insane after transformation and another person may persuade him to remove the mask.
- Mark Richardson, "Introduction: Behind the Mask", The Mask: The Collection, Dark Horse Comics, August 1993, ISBN 1-87857-450-7
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