So — is this a static image or not?
I've mentioned before that I'm not a big fan of static images being used for comic covers. Alex Ross' work on JSA comes to mind, and even his more recent "action" covers feel kind of lifeless, almost as if everyone was caught in a pose more than in the middle of actually doing something.
I don't get that feeling from Doug Mahnke's cover to The Mask Returns #4. As the cover for the final issue of a four-issue mini-series, this one just let it all hang out compared to the first three. Which isn't to say the other covers weren't pretty over the top; plenty of bullets piled up, busty ladies made an appearance and, in the case of issue #3, both happened at the same time.
But this cover really captured the manic rage that defined this series and the character of The Mask (even though the whole gimmick is it's never the same person for long). The bloody wounds are the obvious attention-getters, but the more you look at it the better it gets. At first it looks as if The Mask is just gritting his teeth, but he's actually grinning so hard his teeth are starting to crack! The tiny nose and huge brow are bunched up in almost animal fury, and you can see the unstoppable Walter's advance reflected in his red eyes.
After a while, it hits you — The Mask is enjoying this!
I might just be a sucker for close-up images but it's effectively used here, putting the potential reader almost literally face-to-face with what can be expected inside. I like the way color is used on this cover, too, with big splashes of green, red and white just jumping out at you, reinforcing the idea that — like the image itself — there is nothing subtle about this comic.
You could argue that this cover by Doug Mahnke is just a static portrait, but I think there's a lot more going on here than that.
What do you think?
Some of you sharp-eyed readers might've noticed this cover also promised a "FREE 'Walter' mask inside!'" Sure enough, that's what you got when you picked up this issue of The Mask Returns, and not only that but issue #1 came with a "Mask" mask — both suitable for staging your own Mask misadventures!
I don't know about you, but I'm totally planning to use these to keep both my cats and co-workers in line. If you print out and make your own masks, let me know!