For anyone who picks up a copy of Titan Comics’ Masked: Anomalies without flipping through first the covers might be a mite misleading. DC and Marvel have ensured costumed heroes are what the industry’s known for, and the guy on the cover is flying and wearing a cape. You wonder then, since it’s taken until issue three to meet the flyer and his gaseous, green opponent, whether those original, hero-seeking readers have stuck around. The series rewards commitment but sometimes the discrepancy between what you think you’re signing up for and what you get never reconciles.
It’s not that superheroes aren’t involved in Masked but with so much else going on the covers are our main indicator to take special notice whenever they’re mentioned. We know there’s another hero out there sporting a red cape, for example, because of the shadow and corner of fabric we saw rescue Braffort and Taleb back in issue one. A rescue like that would seem hard to forget but with the anomaly attacks since, it’s very possible that the mystery man would’ve slipped our minds, without the covers reminding us to keep tabs.
The heroes of Masked: Anomalies are war veterans and the series recognizes that not all veterans are the same, and none have it easy. Next to a retired soldier like Braffort, Duroc’s macho soldier, who returns to make passes at Braffort’s sister, Rafaelle, this issue, feels extensively harsher. First, people are going to be ignorant of his experiences and not take them into consideration when he acts like a jerk, and, second, there’s a difference between realizing veterans have experienced trauma and acting like it. Both surprisingly, and not, it’s Rafaelle who ensures we remember that as she searches for her brother, starting with the last man he was seen with.
Dealing with the mess made at the end of issue two, issue three slows down to make sense of the reveal that Braffort has either been transformed into an anomaly or had his anomaly nature awakened. With all attempted definitions for anomalies now eradicated, it’s not clear if Prefect Beauregard and his team are to blame for this change or were facilitators. What is unacceptable is for a man who struggles with PTSD to get told in this incredible situation “…I know you’re on drugs but try to keep up.”
Needing to provide his constituents with an explanation for the explosion that coincided with Braffort’s transformation, Prefect Beauregard arrives at a public fray on a flying, red car—the vehicle that says I am better than every single one of you. His sloppy cover story is exposed without skipping a beat (Serge Lehman’s words wonderfully not registering in Stéphane Créty’s art, for an almost motionless sequence of panels) but Beauregard only seems amused. Will he stay amused when the covers of Masked: Anomalies culminate in the chaotic final pages?