The fantastic DC Comics "Elseworlds" publications focus on creating unique, alternate-reality stories for well-established characters of the DC Comics universe by placing them in times they don't belong to, and places and situations they would never find themselves in otherwise. Masque, from the Elseworlds' Batman series, is a story set in a dark, turn of the century Gotham City that retells the tale of "The Phantom of the Opera," from Gaston Leroux's 1911 novel, incorporating along the way a few clever twists and pleasurable surprises. When Batman is called by Commissioner Gordon to help him catch an elusive escaped prisoner from Gotham Jail, he doesn't know that his pursuit will take him backstage the city's theater during the ballet performance of Poe's "Mask of the Red Death." Neither does he know that he'll witness the horrible accident that will leave the lead male dancer, Harvey Dent, permanently scarred on the entire left side of his body. Soon, more suspicious accidents and mysterious deaths involving performers and producers of the ballet take place, while a sinister figure that lurks backstage in the theater urges Laura Avian, an understudy ballerina and socialite Bruce Wayne's fiancée, to become one with her career, a career that seems to be apparently advancing as a consequence of the tragedies. Is the person hiding behind the curtains responsible for the recent events? Or is another of Laura Avian's secret admirers driving her career forward without minding the cost? Will Batman be able to solve the mystery in time to prevent more deaths? Its emotional, suspenseful and action packed plot, and excellent characterizations make Masque a very enjoyable and entertaining reading, but its wonderful details are what make it a especially delightful tale: the old fashioned language used in the dialogues, the choice of historically accurate clothing (including the design of Batman's costume), the period settings (Batman's Batcave looks like a combination of Frankenstein's laboratory and Dracula's castle). Moreover, its unconventional, sketchy art style resembles the type of illustrations fashionable during the time in which the story's set and gives the narrative an air of authenticity, and its choice of colors and utilization of shadows perfectly captures the ominous atmosphere of the era and the supernatural aura of the original story. This is a very pleasing, brilliantly illustrated, exceptionally well-written tale and an outstanding homage to Leroux's novel. Enjoy! --Reviewed by M. E. Volmar
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
About the reviewer
M. E. Volmar (chupluf)
I've been a freelance artist, graphic designer, editor, and translator for over 15 years, and I love and greatly enjoy my job. Although my biggest passion is art and languages, I am interested in … more
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.