Writer: David Michelinie & Bob Layton
Artists: Dick Giordano (p), Bob Layton (i)
Publisher: Future Comics
While Deathmask rescues a young child from the clutches of a child sacrificing cult, we see mob boss Adonis DuLac is busy preparing an inescapable trap in which to ensnare our hero, as Deathmask has interfered in his criminal enterprises once too often.
This issue opens up by continuing to play up the idea that Deathmask is deadly serious in his dealings with villains, as there's a nice horror movie vibe to the entire sequence where he dispatches the cultists. In fact after this opening sequence the follow-up plot that dealt with the mob boss felt a bit too conventional, as we have a situation where the villain of the story is engaging in Silver Age villainy, with the use of deathtraps, and villainous posturing before he does away with our hero, while the opening pages have already established Deathmask's method of dealing with villains is decidedly more ruthless. Now I guess a case could be made that Deathmask is using his power against people who have, or were about to commit evil acts, while the villain of this story is trying to kill Deathmask because of his continual interference in his criminal activities, and this allows readers to easily spot who is the villain and who is the hero. However, in my book it's never a good sign when the hero comes across as far more menacing than the villain, and what this book really needed to do was deliver a scene that underscored the villain's capacity for evil.
As for the art I first have to make mention of the cover, as a shot of an injured Deathmask preparing to fight an unseen enemy is a nice enticing visual for making on want to read the story inside. As for the interior, the scenes where Deathmask uses his magic continue to be the most visually engaging sections of the issue, with the shot of what he did to the young couple who wanted to be together forever being a very effective reveal shot.
A somewhat conventional reading experience once one gets past a decidedly strong opening, where Deathmask steps in to deal with a cult that was ready to kill a young child, as mob boss Adonis DuLac comes across as a bit old school in his dealing with our hero. Now I do like the way that technology was used to create a trap that would hold Deathmask, and there's something rather endearing about the villainous posturing that Adonis DuLac engages in before he dispatches of Deathmask. However, the simple fact of the matter is that Deathmask is clearly the more dangerous of the two, as there's a greater sense of danger conveyed in the scene where he escapes his cage than there was during the entire sequence where our villain looked to hive the upper hand. If Deathmask is going to continue to be such a ruthless hero, he's going to need villains with a little more edge that Adonis DuLac provided.
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