Fan-Written ICHF: The Mask

This ICHF was written by Kiryu2012.  You can find more of their work on 

Let me ask you a question. Are you, to any degree, familiar with the character known simply as the Mask? If your answer was yes, let me provide you with another inquiry: which version of the Mask are you familiar with?

Most people would probably answer with the live action movie version of the character, the one portrayed by Jim Carry (as well as Jamie Kennedy in the sequel, but most people prefer to pretend there was never a sequel), and whom was portrayed in a rather comedic cartoony light. And to be fair, this is totally valid; the film’s success really helped bring the Mask more into the public eye and launched their popularity, resulting in them gaining an animated series with legendary voice actor Rob Paulsen providing a stellar performance for the character.

And yet, despite their popularity in the film adaptation, I feel not as many people know about the original comic series made by Dark Horse Comics, from which the movie was based on to begin with. Which is a shame, because the comics really do provide a very different take on the Mask that I think people can enjoy, though I should say right now that the comics are far more violent than the movie and cartoon.

You see, while the adaptations of this comic are lighthearted and fun for all, the comic run itself is far more violent, while utilizing the humor and cartoony physics referenced in the movie and show, albeit in a more twisted manner; for while the Mask themself is certainly toonlike in behavior and abilities, everybody else not wearing the namesake false face still suffer much like any normal human if put through his shenanigans. A cartoony bomb will kill a man like any other explosive, just for an example.

The beginning of the comic starts off in a manner relatively reminiscent of the plot the movie uses; one Stanley Ipkiss acquires the Mask, he puts it on one night, and finds himself with power beyond imagination. He decides to himself that he must use the Mask’s powers for the benefit of mankind, and protect and serve others in need.

But first…

See, the thing about the Mask is that while it does grant you great cartoony power, it also draws out your inner dark desires. It pulls out your id, makes you more willing to commit actions you’d normally find morally reprehensible. As such, while Stanley might have initially planned to become a hero, his inner desires very quickly ended up pulling him down the path of villainy.

In the movie, the Mask goofed off, going into the club, stealing money, and generally behaving in a whacky zany fashion while almost everyone else enjoys his antics.

In the comics, the Mask goes and murders numerous people whom have crossed or even just inconvenienced Stanley at some point or another, taking those cartoony physics and putting a dark twist on them.

Stanley Ipkiss also doesn’t get a happy ending in the comics. He becomes fixated on the Mask at all times, craving it more and more and falling down a pit he ultimately never escapes from. By the end of it, his exe shoots him dead and tries bringing the Mask to the police lieutenant, only for him to end up wearing it himself and continuing on the cycle.

While in the movie, the Mask is the creation of the Norse god Loki, the comics give a rather different origin story, with the artifact in question hailing from Africa, and originally was used in strange shamanic rituals before being stolen and sold away. The comics version of the Mask also lacks the movie version’s weakness of only being functional at night; at any point in time, anyone can wear the Mask and utilize its abilities however they want.

A word of caution, however, for those who keep wearing the Mask don’t exactly stay in control of themselves. They may act out things they would never otherwise do, hurt those they care about, find themselves shocked by their own actions. Prolonged use of the Mask always seems to have negative effects on its users.

Because, metaphorically speaking, the Mask is a drug.

It makes whoever wears it feel good; they feel invincible, they can do whatever they want, all their inner desires are brought up to the full front for them to appease. But then come the side effects, the harm users suffer from prolonged use. As already mentioned, those who wear the Mask too much fall under its spell and commit acts they’d never even dream of; the lieutenant whom was given the Mask and subsequently started wearing it nearly killed his colleague before regaining control of himself and afterwards buried it in concrete. Another user who wore it ended up seeing everything around him as weird and scary, even his own folks; let’s be real, this is basically the equivalent of tripping out on acid or mushrooms and regretting it.

It’s funny; while the movie greatly distanced itself from the violent actions prevalent in the Dark Horse Comics series (whether or not this was for the best is debatable), there are still tidbits of horror-like elements and the theme of power abuse. When Stanley Ipkiss first puts on the Mask, the initial transformation is certainly one that many might deem frightful, with the way he claws at his face as the Mask latches on, at least until it concludes with a green tornado and the iconic “Sssssmokin’!” quote. He ends up indulging in his repressed desires and harms those who’ve wronged him before, albeit in a far more lighthearted tone with nobody dying. Granted, the movie has a much more happy ending with him giving up the Mask to live his own life, but even this ends up having the same theme of giving up that which can control you; it’s just more positive in its message.

The Mask, for all its seeming great power that it can give to those who wear it, serves as a cautionary tale: if you’ve been given power, don’t let it get to your head, else you’ll just start hurting those around you. And heed the words of those who warn not to use a certain something, much like drugs, for while it might seem fun at first, you’ll be left with nothing but regret by the end of it.

This entry was posted in Creepy Columns, Iconic Characters of Horror Fiction, Slasher Horror Characters and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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