A multi-blog look at lists of “Movies You Didn’t Know Were Based On Comics” to see how true they really are.
“The Mask” first appeared in the four issues of a Dark Horse comic called Mayhem and later graduated to its own series of mini-series.
The serialised story from Mayhem (later collected as The Mask #0) introduces Stanley Ipkiss, a geeky downtrodden loser with a hot girlfriend and is a man who has revenge fantasies about killing those who pick on him. Stanley buys his girlfriend Kathy-with-no-last-name an ancient mask as a gift, only to discover that when he wears it he becomes another person – with powers including the inability to be killed by even horrifically fatal injuries. He uses these powers to get vengeance on people who slight him in any way by killing them (and a lot of policemen.) It’s a simple disproportionate revenge fantasy (like films like Falling Down) which will either delight you or horrify you, or more probably do both at once, depending on your personal experience and how recent the latest school shooting was. Rather than satisfying Stanley the maskless Stanley becomes anger and less controlled, more like the person he becomes in the Mask. The art is suitably rough echoing the chaos in the story and it ends predictable consequences.
The Mask then gets it’s own eponymous mini-series, a new wearer, cleaner art and a softer attitude. In The Mask a detective from the Mayhem stories gets the Mask. Rather than after petty vengeance, he (frustrated at the flawed legal system he deals with every day) carries out vigilante killings, out of character for the by-the-book cop he is when not the Mask. Obviously, the anger and murders are still there, but with a much greater justification and, instead of angrier like Ipkiss, the detective becomes more playful as both the Mask and as a person which is reflected in the cleaner art. As such The Mask – now being about a masked vigilante – is much more of a standard comic book story than the Stanley Ipkiss origins.
The Mask was made into a 1994 film.
This blog is meant to iron out issues and help understanding of comic book terms and ideas. However, it also uses many terms and ideas new readers may be unfamiliar with. For clarifications or corrects, comment below.