Publication date: May, 1992
Back in 1373, Oshi and Sato come to and exit the caves, alone. They swear to never speak of the strange creature that instructed them ever again, but to use what they have learned to form their own martial arts school. And as every journey begins with a single step, they will call their clan The Foot.
*This story is continued from TMNT (Vol. 1) #46. The story continues in TMNT (Vol. 1) #48.
*Hattori will return in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #22.
*Savanti Romero last appeared in “Spinal Tapped”. He will return in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #32.
*The Turtles reference their battle with Romero in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 1) #7 as their last encounter, though “Spinal Tapped” was written to take place after that story, creating a continuity error.
*Romero’s wife, Savanti Juliet, last appeared in TMNT (Vol. 1) #42.
*The Turtles will encounter Renet again in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #51.
*Fluffy from Michael Dooney’s “Gizmo” series can be seen amongst the weird aliens on the world Chote is transported to. The opening editorial promises that Dooney will be using Chote again in future stories, presumably in his “Gizmo” series. Alas, those plans never materialized and Chote isn’t seen again.
*This issue also contained an 8-page bonus “Space Usagi” back-up by Stan Sakai, “Hare Today, Hare Tomorrow”.
Michael Dooney’s “Masks” comes to a conclusion, but it does so with something of a whimper, I’m afraid. It spends a lot of time spinning its wheels as the Turtles wait for Oraga to see them and Romero waits for the Time Scepter to come back and most of the issue is just spent… waiting. Lots and lots of waiting. Even Raph’s training of the two ronin only amounts to a few pages and neither Oshi nor Sato receive any characterization or personality. The origin of the Foot Clan made for a great ending stinger, but it seems tacked on as an afterthought (most of their training under Raph ocurred off-panel).
And what the heck did Renet do for the five or six days everybody spent sitting around waiting? Was she in a prison cell? Was she tortured? It is never addressed. In fact, while the narrative boxes make sure to tell us that many days are passing while the Turtles are at Oraga’s, Renet’s time at Romero’s camp seems to be passing by at a different speed (unless it really took Romero a whole day to have Chote bring Renet through the door to speak with him).
The showdown with Romero is also a major let down. It’s amusing to know that Renet was merely “playing possum”, waiting for Romero to make the mistake of revealing himself, then cast him back to prehistory without even an exertion of effort, but that still makes for an underwhelming climax. Romero has always been a villain played for laughs, yet there’s no humor to him in this storyline. Dooney characterizes him as deadly serious and intimidating, too, which is unfortunate. Without the edge of humor to make him a bumbling villain, Romero simply rubs off as obnoxiously incompetent and a waste of everybody’s time. I’m not opposed to a serious interpretation of Romero, just don’t defeat him in a page and a half because he presents no genuine threat.
What saves this half of “Masks” is the art by Dooney, which is of his usual excellent quality. Even though the majority of the issue is spent with the characters waiting around, doing nothing, it’s still pretty to look at. And while the climax with Romero was a waste, the battle with Chote in the cave was pretty sweet (and especially interesting is that Don delivers the finishing blow, not Raph or Leo, the two focal Turtles of this story).
The second half of “Masks” doesn’t quite live up to what the first half promised. There are a lot of good ideas in here, but none are given time to develop. We get the origin of the Foot Clan, but we learn nothing of the founders and the “training” delivered by Raph is mostly unseen. Romero makes his big comeback, but is defeated a page after he does so. Hattori comes back after being absent from the series for years, but spends the whole thing sick in bed. Chote is sent to live in the future world of “Gizmo”, but Dooney never utilizes that plot thread in any “Gizmo” comics.
In the end, you’re just kind of left wondering what all really happened in this story arc besides a whole lot of pretty art.
Grade: C+ (as in, “Can’t say I have a problem with pretty art, though”.)