Written by Serge Lehman, with pencils by Stéphane Créty, Masked #1: Anomalies from Titan Comics tells of a “retro futuristic” Paris where metal items keep popping up across the city. Collectively called anomalies, one minute they’re there, growing out of thin air, and nobody is sure why. The only thing more mysterious than their origins is their lack of definition. An array of machines and objects in various sizes, they’ve been spotted throughout all the districts. The infestation has become so extensive that a special task force, APS, has been assembled to deal with the anomalies the only way anyone knows how: retrieval and collection, out of sight, out of mind.
An extra news article at the end of the issue, where a journalist received permission to tag along with APS, gets a little more into the reasons why this passive response is in place. It’s fair to say that APS is not entirely at liberty to try more aggressive tactics but it also means that they’re handicapped from rooting out a cause for these anomalies, or, better yet, preventing one.
The issue opens by introducing our point of view character, Sergeant Frank Braffort, a soldier whose last mission pushed him to end his career. Depicted in flashback, the mission is narrated by a phone message for someone named AJ in the present. The anonymous message leaver has done his research on Braffort but how, when the reports on Incident 41 don’t reflect what actually happened, is the question. Nothing changes the fact that all of this need to reveal the truth means the regiment in the flashback is set for disaster. Gaétan Georges’ idyllic colors make the out of nowhere nature of the attack more pronounced and sudden.
The visuals and dialogue corroborate the narrator’s account of events but the additional information he’s able to add, about how Braffort was treated afterwards, completes the characterization of a tragic hero. Lehman has created a voice and personality in the narrator that succeeds beyond relaying central backstory. There’s no doubt Braffort is going to make an honorable lead but it’s unclear why this stranger has latched onto him. You want to learn his identity and Masked knows it, ending the flashback with a sumptuous overhead shot of a tiny narrator, back to us, hanging up the phone and looking out an expansive window.
With Anonymous in the wings, as an unknown entity, the rest of the issue focuses on Paris, where Braffort is newly arrived. Struggling with PTSD and rooming with his sister, Braffort’s not sure what’s going on in the city. He’s on his way to finding out.