It’s another big week for MonkeyBrain Comics this week, with a new issue of the excellent High Crimes and another new series in the form of the brilliantly titled Mask of the Red Panda by Gregg Taylor and Dean Kotz.
This 40s inspired Eisner-esque crime adventure follows in the Golden Age footsteps of classic crime fighters like The Spirit or The Green Hornet and perfectly captures that radio serial feel – a large part of which is down to the fact writer Taylor produced The Mask of The Red Panda as a podcasted radio serial in his native Canada. This means the book already has a very well rounded feel with superbly-defined character dynamics which makes it feel less like a number one and more like you’re jumping into a familiar favourite.
Although focusing on the well trodden path of a billionaire mask wearing detective and his youthful ward/driver the story doesn’t feel overly cliched, despite having such familiar character types. Part of this is down to the supernatural/magical monsters who the Panda is pursuing (which made the book feel a bit like a family friendly version Pipedream favourite Fatale) but also thanks to the Panda’s young ward Kit Baxter aka Flying Squirrel. This plucky female sidekick is more than just another Robin/Kato knock off and actually pushes the story forward with her smart, sassy attitude, which makes her much more than just another ‘girl in peril’ and ends up making her the most interesting part of the story.
The smart, fun-filled story is ably backed up by artist Dean Kotz who’s style is much looser than you’d expect from a book of this style, but as a result it gives the story a sense of dynamism and excitement that a more formal artist might not manage. Equally at home rendering the stylised 40s decor as he is the magical monsters.
Mask of the Red Panda is another cracking addition to the MonkeyBrain roster which we hope will endure beyond it’s initial 3 issue run. Mixing all the best elements of classic pulp adventure serials with a magical subplot, the real star of the book however is sidekick Kit Baxter the Flying Squirrel who is a truly great creation.
Mask of the Red Panda #1 is available via the ComiXology app for £1.49