Strange Comic Trends: The Return of the Paper Masks
Back in 1988 there existed an interesting promo to entice new readers into picking up the new series Manhunter. The new series was a spin-off from the so-so Millennium company wide crossover, where former Manhunter Mark Shaw carried the torch as the last Manhunter, in this case more of a bounty hunter than hero or villain. The character was a bit obscure though, having appeared as an enemy of the Justice League of America on numerous occasions, as the Star-Tsar or as the Privateer. The character had a few tricks up his sleeve. The first was being an adept and deadly martial artist, but this was aided by his high tech energy baton and high tech mask, both of which were also associated with the Manhunters. The giveaway in this case was a paper mask which had to be assembled from the flat surface of thin cardboard to create a reasonable facsimile of the character’s mask.
In the meantime since now and then, a great transformation has taken place in popular culture and with comics place within it. Gradually but steadily comics have been entering the mainstream of popular culture away from the niche fans that it served before. The popularity of comics carries with it other facets, including the advent of realistic looking heroes in the movies (usually thanks to CGI) as well as devoted fans of cosplay. In this day and age the paper mask might seem like an anachronism of the olden days, a low tech solution to what is a serious fanbase.
It is all that much stranger therefore that DC Comics in its new promotional campaign for its post Convergence titles has decided to reintroduce the paper mask as a collectible and as an incentive to get fans into the stores. It might serve its place as a novelty of sorts but also is somewhat outdated, especially with the Harley Quinn mask, with so many other noteworthy and iconic takes on the character through dedicated cosplayers who devote a lot of time and money to getting the images right. This is only a part of the overall DC Comics marketing push, some of which seems to be really fun in its outlook, incorporating in other aspects of popular culture marketing, but this part is strangely only reminiscent of the past without offering much else which is new.