Comic Review: Masks and Mobsters X-Mas Special from Monkey Brain Comics

Masks and Mobsters #5 is published by Monkey Brain Comics @Monkeybrain_inc  and is written buy Joshua Williamson  @Williamson_Josh  and drawn by Mike Henderson @MikeSHenderson.

First off, Masks and Mobsters is one of the Freakin’ Awesome Network’s new favorite comics (digital or otherwise) this year as review, after review, after review has shown this comic not only tells a great Mafia-meets-superheroes story with some gorgeous&gritty Mike Henderson art, but it also makes good use of the digital medium to enhance the storytelling. This anthology of crime stories is a slice of creator-owned goodness that makes you glad you own a tablet/phone/computer in order to read it on.

It’s pretty tough to sell someone on digital comics for a variety of reasons (“Ugh, I don’t feel like I’m really buying anything if it’s not a physical thing!” “But I like the feel of a comic in my hands.”) and while those are all perfectly rational reasons that don’t border on technophobia at all, Masks and Mobsters is the answer to all those reservations. You can’t buy it at your local comic shop, you can’t tradewait it and unless you’re a technological troglodyte who can’t add another 99 cents to your comic budget – you can definitely afford it. If that’s not enough, all profits from the sale of issue #5 will be donated to the Red Cross – so you’d have to be a real comic-hating Scrooge to not pony up for this issue.

On the subject of ol’ Ebeneezer, just like all your favorite British TV shows, Masks and Mobsters has it’s own X-Mas Special featuring a short side story that follows two mobsters about to shake down Scrooge just before he’s visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Williamson’s writing is pretty light-hearted and fun (a departure from Mask and Mobsters’ usually grim tone) and a big part of that is how Williamson has created a world where superheroes are a constant annoyance of the mob. As such, these goombas automatically assume these “ghosts” are actually some lame superheros and attempt to shoot at them. Even though the two shakedown artists are supposed to be the antagonists in this particular scene, there’s a blue-collar, affability about them that endears them to the reader, on this most happy of holidays. Mike Henderson’s art on this series never fails to capture the ‘dirty 30’s’ hue each month, but this issue he goes above and beyond making the ghosts of X-Mas Past, Present and Future look more bad ass than your favorite Marvel X-team. (You’ll never think about the line “dream of chestnuts…” the same way again).

Ok, fair dues – this comic is a great read and the art is lush, but it’s on the short side – only nine pages long. Remember though, only 99 cents, it’s a X-mas special and the profits are all being donated to the Red Cross. If you haven’t been introduced to the digital mistress that is Comixology then this is your perfect first foray to the dark side of sequential. You can still have your trusty, reliable, faithful print comics, but embrace the future and do a little digital on the side.

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