Nightmask Nos. 1-12 (Marvel, cover dates November, 1986- October, 1987)
Long has it been my desire to see Marvel collect this beloved series in trade paperback or hardcover. What's that you say? Nightmask, or any New Universe title, is loved by someone out there? Yup. (cue adult Kevin Arnold voice and folky music from The Wonder Years) It was July of 1986, shortly before my 13th birthday, and Marvel issued 8 new titles in their own separate universe. A new universe, if you will, set in the real world until an incident known as The White Event caused several beings to manifest extraordinary abilities. This universe was more realistic, set in real time (i.e. a month passed in between issues), at least for the first 8 or so issues. Then cliffhangers and other ongoing plotlines forced them to drop the real time aspect and begin to concede to more established comic book storytelling practices.
Nightmask wasn't a terribly original concept. Indeed, it is a blatant rip-off of the 1983 film Dreamscape set to a superhero beat. I realized this back in 1986, but I still enjoyed each and every issue of this title. Creative teams shuffled in and out, as was the case on all of these New Universe titles. Archie Goodwin co-created and wrote the first few issues and one or two more later on, and another Silver Age great, Roy Thomas, handled several scripts as well. The artwork was generally solid, and the only notable on the series is future superstar Mark Bagley, who was not ready for prime time back in 1987.
So what made me re-read these issues after all of these years? For starters, I sold my copies around 1995 when my Mom died, along with 90% of my collection. I needed money badly and parted with my treasures for pennies on the dollar. No eBay back then, unfortunately. Anyways, these comics are completely worthless. So worthless that I got the entire run for less than a price of a bottle of pop. Marvel issued Vol. 1 trade paperbacks of three New Universe titles (Star Brand, Psi-Force and D.P. 7) before they shuttered the line once again. We will likely never see more collections, let alone one for one of the line's abysmal failures, Nightmask. Maybe I'll bind it and make my own hardcover edition.
This series has held up fairly well a quarter century later. It's still decent, and that was the biggest hurdle facing this series. It was never great, or even really good, just decent. I suspect that if I didn't read and re-read this series umpteen times way back when that this title would've sank like a stone for me like it did with the rest of the comic book buying public. I am still carrying a torch to see this book in hardcover or trade paperback. Maybe some day...