Reviews - Comic - Mask of the Phantasm

Review (James Harvey)
The comic adaptation of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is a solid representation of the movie, both from an artistic standpoint and from the written word. Kelley Puckett, writer of The Batman Adventures, and Mike Parobeck, artist for the same title, somehow managed to find the time to squeeze in a double-sized movie adaptation without skipping a beat. The art looks just as polished as the regular monthly title and the writing is just as sharp.

But, still, this adaptation does run into the same problem that any movie adaptation does. This comic, though double-sized, does have to be able to tell the entire story and, to be honest, it falls a bit short. Puckett no doubt had to compromise in a lot of places to get the story to fit completely within the front and back cover, and it appears as though the action sequences get the short end of the stick. Some sequences, which play out much longer in the movie, last a limited amount of panels before the story quickly moves on. Also, I found that transitions from present-day and the flashbacks were handled a bit abruptly as well, some of them appearing almost out of nowhere. If the reader didnít see the movie before reading this, he/she would surely be lost.

Thankfully, the artwork manages to cover most of this up quite beautifully. Parobeckís artwork is astounding here, as always. True, his style makes the final showdown feel a bit less epic than it was in the movie, but thatís a small price to pay here. His pencils are so full of life, so thick, and so plentiful. Each character leaps off the page. I find it amazing how heís able to flawlessly mix his own style with the designs from Batman: The Animated Series. Itís a perfect marriage that very few artists can pull off, and Parobeck has got it. I sincerely doubt anyone will ever be able to top him and his work, especially how he can do so much, like this Batman: Mask of the Phantasm adaptation and the monthly comic and not lose a step.

The Official Comic Adaptation of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm remains probably one of the best efforts by DC Comics to really nail a comic adaptation. Usually these comics are just done at the last minute and appear very rushed, but not here. The artwork is beautiful and the story, save for some of the problems it has fitting the entire movie together between two covers, is a solid representation of the big screen flick. The fact that the regular creative team of The Batman Adventures managed to work this comic into their schedule without missing a beat is a true testament to how hardworking and creative these guys were, and it shows in the finished product. Puckett did the best he could with the format and size he had to work with in order to do the story justice and, as it goes without saying, Parobeck just hit it out of the park with the artwork.

Those looking to hunt this down, even now, may be in for a difficult time. The newsstand edition is still quite easy to come across online, but the prestige edition release may be harder and more costly. The newsstand copy features cover art by Mike Parobeck while the prestige edition release features art by Bruce Timm. The prestige edition was re-released in digest size and packaged with the VHS release of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm way back in 1993, so that will likely be the easiest one to come across. Regardless of the format you pick up, this is a solid comic adventure that fans of the movie will definitely appreciate, especially if you followed the amazing Batman Adventures comic at the time. A great comic for all Batman: The Animated Series fans.
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