Black Mask Studios 2018
Created & Written by Pat Shand
Created & Illustrated by Emily Pearson
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Rated M for Mature
Haley Mori, a downtrodden alternative-model, happens upon a secret society of elite models in NYC that are using their platforms to sell narcotics. Seeing a possible escape from a lifetime of crushing debt, Haley becomes involved and works her way up the ranks, making new alliances and enemies alike while getting a taste of a power she never knew she craved.
We all like a strong and suspenseful opening that grabs our attention and makes us want to see and know more. Well this one has that and so much more. I mean that first page wow you just look at the panels and think what the hell is going on here! Emily steals the spotlight here with this and there are little things about it that make you raise the eyebrow but that dude asleep on the side-walk under a blanket with a pillow that’s one that I’ll never understand and I’ll never forget. This is a great opening for not only a #1 but for a first issue of a brand new series.
I like the way that this is structured. The opening is what grabs us and then we’ve got to back and see the events that lead to it. So the second opening here takes us back to Haley doing a photo shoot with a photographer. From the sound of things he’s not very professional and if it were me I’d have either left with the money or his the equivalent in his equipment. Still I like this because it actually set the stage for her characterisation and how we as the reader see her. Sometimes we get a starting point for a character a baseline if you will so we can gauge her progress as she grows and evolves into a different version of herself.
When she gets home to her husband we see her personal life and I am a little surprised. Also can we get rid of the term Thropple and use Triad instead? I don’t care what’s popular right now that just sounds so stupid to use a made up term when there already was one in use that summed things up nicely. Stupid straight people. These days we keep seeing a surge of girls and women claiming to be models, be it Instagram models or whatnot and whatever platform it is they aren’t real models they just don’t want to work for a living, that’s how I see them begging for attention and money for putting themselves in selfies. Can you tell I am a grumpy old gay man heh. Regardless of personal belief’s the way Pat puts all this into the story is exceptionally well done and I have my reaction to it and so will you.
Emily surprised me with her work on the interiors here. Now I am not certain if this done on a computer or not but there are some very interesting moments that don’t look normal to me. I love that skirt by the way and there’s something in the hair and the highlights that strikes my notice. Sometimes things seem just a bit out of focus but it isn’t annoying or anything it’s a style of art and here I am talking about it so it’s rather effective. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels shows off a nice eye for storytelling. I love seeing the backgrounds here they really do flesh out the city and expand moments beautifully.
Through a series of unfortunate events, or maybe they are fortuitous depending on your point of view, Haley finds herself in a situation she is totally unprepared for. The way Pat is telling this with the whole concept, the way we see the story & plot development and some incredibly strong characterisation keeps us glued to the page. The idea is brilliant and it’s execution is pretty near flawless and just keeps showing us why Black Mask is a company that should be on all our lips.