By Todd Allen
Has it really been 6 years since Alex Ross painted an entire comic? He did do pencils and inks with some computerized painted finishes for a Justice Society/Kingdom Come special edition in ’09. Other than that I think it really has been just a page or two here and there since Justice wrapped in ’06. Ross is returning to interiors in November for a pulp character (Shadow/Green Hornet / Zoro/ Black Bat / Miss Fury / The Spider) crossover mini-series called Masks from Dynamite in November.
The PR is a little over-stated. This isn’t the first pulp crossover in comics/superheroes. Off the top of my head, The Shadow and Doc Savage crossed over in the 90s, when DC had both licenses and there was some more crossover in DC’s brief First Wave line. That said, this is a pretty big set of characters from the same era. I’m not quite sure how Zorro fits in, but The Shadow, The Spider and Black Bat were all stars of the hero pulps. Technically, Zorro was a pulp fixture too, he was just set in a different era. The Shadow and Green Hornet both had loooooong running radio shows and are linked there. Miss Fury could be argued to be out of the pulp tradition. It’s a natural convergence of characters. Actually, it would be nice to see the Green Hornet/Lone Ranger relationship formally referred to again, since Dynamite has both licenses under the same roof, but I just don’t see the lawyers letting that happen.
Writing the tale is Chris Roberson (sounds like with some co-plotting with Ross), who’s been in the news lately for a hastier than planned departure from DC and a Twitterific launch of his MonkeyBrains Comics digital line.
By the phrasing, I’m thinking Ross is only doing full interiors on the first issue. You’d need a LOT of lead time for more issues.
I’m curious if any other pulp heroes might turn up in this one. I believe The Phantom Detective is in the public domain. (Amusingly, while the comics version of the Green Lama is public domain, the pulp version is not.) Mandrake or The Phantom popping up from the King licenses?
Official PR follows:
BEFORE THERE WERE SUPERHEROES, THERE WERE MASKED HEROES!
THE FIRST EVER CROSS-OVER FEATURING THE TOP PULP HEROES OF ALL TIME!
THE ENTIRE FIRST ISSUE FULLY PAINTED BY ALEX ROSS!!!
July 11th, 2012, Runnemede, NJ – The Shadow, Green Hornet, Kato, Zorro, The Spider, Miss Fury, The Black Bat and MORE are all featured in Masks, the Dynamite Entertainment cross-over featuring the top pulp heroes of all time. Written by Chris Roberson, the ENTIRE FIRST ISSUE IS PAINTED BY ALEX ROSS!! This is his first full interior work since “Justice” at DC Comics!!! Masks is hitting comic book stores everywhere this November, also featuring covers by Alex Ross, Sean Phillips, Howard Chaykin and Jae Lee!!!
In Masks #1, it’s 1938, and the Justice Party has swept into office in New York State. But the newly-elected officials are in the control of powerful criminals, who quickly corrupt the law to their own advantage. When a fascist police state is instituted, the only ones who stand in defense of the innocent are masked vigilantes like the Shadow, the Green Hornet, Kato, and the Spider. When the law is unjust, justice must be an outlaw…
“For years now, Dynamite Entertainment and I have desired to unite all of the varied pulp characters they’ve been publishing into one big crossover event,” says legendary comic book creator Alex Ross. “When the Green Hornet and Kato paved the way for a successful relaunch of the original masked duo characters, we knew that the grand prize of revivals should then be the ultimate original, the Shadow. Now, to be able for the first time in history to have these legends meet, along with fellow mysterymen; The Spider, Zorro, Black Bat, and others, makes this project a unique accomplishment. I always thought that illustrating the first hero archetypes like The Shadow would be a milestone in my career. I’m thrilled to touch upon the legends that began the very concept of the superhero in Masks with a crossover that is literally the longest overdue.”
“Masks is the comic I’ve wanted to write since I first discovered the pulp heroes in the 1970s,” says writer Chris Roberson. “Just working with these characters is already a dream come true, but having the first issue painted by Alex Ross makes it that much more amazing!”
“When we were exploring writers, I emailed Chris and we spent a couple of emails back and forth and in that short span, he laid out a basic framework that was pitch-perfect for what we were looking for,” adds Dynamite Editor Joe Rybandt. “Alex had initially laid out a character list and high concept, but Chris added the flesh to the bones and we’ve got something really cool coming together here.”
“Alex is so incredible excited about Masks, and realizes that it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to draw so many classic and iconic characters in one series,” exclaims Dynamite President and Publisher Nick Barrucci. “Alex promptly jumped head-first when presented with the idea to paint the interiors of the entire first issue, which will bring the most amount of attention to the series possible”
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.