Publication date: April, 1992
*Chronologically, I would place this story after TMNT (Vol. 1) #27. The story continues in TMNT (Vol. 1) #47.
*For the Turtles, they last met Renet in TMNT (Vol. 1) #42. However, given that Renet was more mature in that story and she’s less mature in this one, from Renet’s POV, she likely last met the Turtles in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 1) #7. Time travel. You know how it is.
*Chote is the same character as Shogun Shoate from the Playmates TMNT toyline.
*The Turtles last met Hattori in TMNT (Vol. 1) #9.
*This issue also featured a 4-page sketchbook promo for Stan Sakai’s “Space Usagi” series.
Hey, it’s like the third live-action TMNT movie only, you know, not absolutely horrible. Hooray!
Seriously, you can look at “Masks” and tell that it was the blueprint for “TMNT III”, just with the budget scaled back tremendously. The time scepter is there! But no Renet because trying to explain her history might cost too much. Feudal Japan is there! But no giant lizard men because that sort of costume would be too expensive. There’s an evil shogun! Except he’s not a demonic creature because we gotta think about the bottom line, people.
If you’ve ever wanted to see a good “Turtles go back to Feudal Japan, fight an evil shogun and engage in samurai battles” story, then “Masks” is really where you ought to be headed.
Looking back at the overall landscape of Mirage’s TMNT comics, I’ve realized that Dooney only drew a scarce number of full issues; his talents were typically reserved for covers, shorts or lithographs and other bits of prestigious art. The man is an incredible talent, so any full issues done under his pen and pencil are to be savored.
Here, Dooney takes a wonderfully cinematic approach to the story (the opening editorial explains he was coming off a “samurai kick” when he wrote this) with two beautiful establishing shots on the first three pages. He exerts a tremendous amount of effort in capturing the detail and authenticity of the Feudal era landscape and fashions and totally delivers on the look and feel of the setting. I suppose one obvious omission are any kanji of any kind, but I understand those aren’t easy for artists and writers unfamiliar with the language, and I’d frankly prefer their absence over “squiggly lines that kind of look right”.
We get something of a double-whammy in regards to returning characters and plot threads, as not only does Hattori make a comeback, but so does Renet. I always felt Hattori had potential to be an interesting supporting character in the Mirage series, but they mostly squandered him. The Turtles and Splinter tend to have more experience with the Gosei Spirit than Hattori-himself. Renet, meanwhile, is more youthful and ditsy than when he last saw her in “Juliet’s Revenge”, indicating that that story happened later in Renet’s timeline. Dooney draws her with the same supermodel body type he gives to all his female characters, but in Renet’s case, it’s actually an accurate fit considering her exaggerated anatomy. At least she’s not wearing that stupid hat.
As for the new guy, Chote, he doesn’t have much personality but he sure does look cool, right?
“Masks” is a superb story and sort of a “last hoorah” for weirdness and random adventure before “Shades of Grey” and “City at War” absorb the last fifteen issues of Volume One.
Grade: A (as in, “And Klunk is in this story, too! It has everything!”)