The Night Before Christmask

Written by Rick Geary
Illustrated by Rick Geary
Dark Horse

Most of the time, if I like a character and I like a creator, I can purchase a book safe in the knowledge that I will almost certainly love the contents inside.

I find the concept of the Mask fun.
I find Rick Geary's Victorian murder comics to be some of the best stuff I've read, and definitely the best non-fiction comics I've read (not that I've read a lot, to be honest).

Put the two together and you get comics gold, right?

Unfortunately, not. Or rather, what you get is perfect for a child who saw the Mask movie with Jim Carrey and wants to read a mask story. "The Night Before Christmask" is great for someone who has kids and wants to ease them into comics.

For a 31 year old with no kids expecting woodcut-like scenes of wanton destruction ala the Futurama Santa Robot, the book is a huge letdown. Unlike Marvel's all-ages comics, like the Power Pack minis or Parker's Avengers, this story is definitely geared to a younger audience.

As a childen's comic, it's wonderful. Geary gives Stanley's nephew the power of the Mask and he uses it to play Santa Claus, even foiling a burglar in the process. There's a few laugh shots for adults, like when the Mask imitates famous stars for a camera, but this is written at the level of about an 8-year old, maybe a bit younger or older depending on their reading level. (I was reading on a fifth grade level out of kindergarden, so I never can tell what writing level matches up with what age.)

The drawings are typical Geary, and only make me want him to takle a "superhero" book even more than before I saw this. They retain his grainy style, though it loses a bit in color translation, and his Santa looks like someone from the Victorian age, as you might expect. I will say I think some of his usual care is missing, however--the detail work is a bit sparce.

There's nothing wrong with this one in the right hands, namely that of your son, daughter, niece, or nephew. Unfortunately, I have none of those, so this one was a miss for me. Chalk one up to experience--and taking it out of the mylar bag next time.