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Evil? Sign Me Up!

By ElliottThomasStaude, author of Mourners, Abednego, Persistence

Jul 10, 2019: There have been works in the past which address the dubious blessing of becoming a cog in the world of Evil Inc. and its many subsidiaries. In that sense, I’m Not A Monster, It’s Only A Mask probably won’t light any massive new fires, but it deserves attention for its obvious care, tight style, and the sense that we’re on the precipice of a very pretty new IP.

An initial point of note is that It’s Only A Mask apparently plans to have fairly elaborate installations; several thousand words presumably once a month. This may be good or bad, depending on the reader’s preference for frequency versus size. I find it nice, but that’s very much a matter of taste. A definite sticking point is a predilection for switching tenses at odd times. Some occasions definitely might be employing this for artistic effect, but it was oddly regularly jarring. Unfortunately, with not the greatest amount of material currently available for shaping opinion, this review may not be fully representative of goods and bads within several months of its appearance.

The characters of Sam and Max stand out, both as creatures of conveyance through the unfolding events and as cast members in their own right. Within the very first few seconds of their presence on the stage, the chums make an impact: one a plain paper package with a thing for rockin’ tunes and the other a somewhat-surly creature who takes nonsense from NO ONE. One couldn’t say they’re endearing from the very start, but they wear themselves easily enough warts and all that they’ll almost certainly become personable to the reader with little to no difficulty.

Plot? Well, the plot has not gone particularly far at this juncture, but the shape of things to come has intrigue writ all over it. Scene one: get acquainted with evil-organization-du-jour’s HR department; tone, somewhat goofy; hijinks, a given. Scene two: get acquainted further with evil organization tone et cetera. A pattern, at least at the outset, although it has room to do all kinds of stuff in the fullness of time. However, it is near the end of the second act that . . . shall we say, an aberration in the expected formula appears. One could compare it to being asked by one’s good friend to go and purchase them a collection of silly hats, only to find that the mannequin wearing the second-to-last hat bears a perfect replica of your own face. Perhaps not terribly unsettling in itself, but within the context of its presentation enough to raise the hackles slightly.

In short, don’t know exactly where this one’s going, but those who can withstand the "evil" protagonist archetype ought to keep this one on the radar. Slightly silly, moderately intriguing, quite commendable potential.

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