Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Night Masters #1

The Night Masters #1 1985 $1.50 Custom Pic Comics
by Bruce Patnaude

You never know where you're going to find a micro press gem you've never seen before. This one I actually found while digging through the dollar boxes at my very own place of work, Maverick's Cards and Comics! Just how long had this treasure been waiting to be unearthed, right there under my very nose? It's impossible to say. But right now I can tell you my thoughts on this month's bewildering book...The Night Masters!

It's the 27th century, and we're thrown right into the action as a death dealing duo roams the Tabos Embassy, slaughtering the Unisec Guards. We don't really find out who exactly the Tabos are or why they're being exterminated by these bad ass villains. Suffice it to say these two dudes have been contracted to do some killing, and that's what they do for a couple of pages until they're called away by their mysterious bossman.
Here they are, Metal and Sky, killing some dude on the title page!
Sky (the one on the right in the above panel) tells Metal that he shouldn't have killed that last guy as they could've gotten paid handsomely for a live body by the C.I.E.P. (Corporate Industralist Extraction Plant). 
Okay... before we go on... that's kind of a thing with this comic. There are TONS of acronyms for various organizations that readers have to familiarize themselves with as they keep getting mentioned throughout the book. Other than the C.I.E.P. there are the U.S.F. (Univeral Security Force), The O.H. (Old House), The C.I. (Corporate Industrialists) and the I.B.P. (Industry For A Better Poplace). It gets a little confusing. You really almost need a reference chart in the back of the comic to flip to as you read.

Next we meet two of the Night Masters. It's Roger Aqua and Max!
They're talking about The O.H.'s grip on government funds and how Damon (the other Night Master on the front cover that dresses exactly like Roger Aqua) is meeting with a potential client right now.

Cut to that very meeting! Damon is talking to Diana Lockly, who wants to know more about the death of her brother , an ambassador for the I.B.P. who was killed by a professional death squad known as The Seed while he was on a peace keeping mission in Bolaria. Damon takes the case! But suddenly, the door to Diana's apartment blows open and who should it be but our old friends Metal and Sky! Metal blasts Damon in the chest and he goes down faster than my interest in this comic! He then slaps Diana unconscious and throws her over his shoulder as they leave. 

When Damon awakes he summons his Night Master buddies to help!
Shortly, Roger and Max show up guns a blazin'! Roger almost shoots Damon right in the face! Damon calms his buddies down, telling them the bad guys have already absconded with Diana. They discuss their next move.
While they're figuring this out, we jump to a meeting with the slimy Lincoln Pace (guy with an eye patch) and our favorite thugs Metal and Sky. They're at the base for the I.B.P. (remember who that is? Yeah, me neither) as Metal strong arms their public relations man.
Meanwhile, the Night Masters (why don't we just call them The N.M.s from here on out?) change into costume as they speed along in their rover to meet up with someone named Nathan. 

Out of nowhere their ride is hit by some kind of explosive blast and they screech to a  halt!
It's the Neutralizer!
The N.M.s hop out and try to fight this guy! But ole Neuty fries Max with an internal electrical fusion jolt from his wrist bands! Both of them pass out and the Neutralizer's unconscious body is mysteriously teleported away!

We then cut to Lincoln Pace having a meeting with a real nasty s.o.b. named Stargull where Lincoln explains how they don't have I.B.P. support. Stargull says that The Seed will proceed as planned! 
Fuck yeah, Seed. Don't take none of that shit from the I.B.P. (whoever that is again).

Then we suddenly cut to an abandoned mineral mining space station where an alien named Manuel Apex tells his robotic subordinate to keep an eye on Lincoln Pace and to kill him if he makes one wrong move! Watch out L.P.!
Back on Earth, Max is recovering from the battle and the N.M.s are standing in the street discussing their next move when they're blasted again by The Neutralizer! He's back!
He rips up a piece of the pavement and slings it at Max, knocking him out. Man, poor Max just keeps getting neutralized by this guy... holy shit! His name is super appropriate!!

Then Neuty blasts Damon with his solar flares, knocking him to the ground. Roger shoots their foe with his crazy future gun but Neuty is only stunned! He quickly recovers and blasts at Roger...or maybe it's Damon, I don't know. They both look exactly alike in their costumes. Whoever it is, Neuty is standing right over him ready to deliver the death blow as the book ends with this dramatic (if not slightly erotic) splash page!
This was definitely not my favorite book I've reviewed so far. It just wasn't very much fun and there were lots of confusing organization names and characters who look very similar to keep up with. 

It certainly wasn't awful and I've read much worse first issues by professional comics creators. I just wish it would've cut back on the confusion and wordiness and unleashed the weird fun that it had the potential for.

On a positive note, I do see this book as ahead of its time. It definitely reminds me of a lot of early '90's Image team books that came out seven years later and sold millions of copies. His character designs totally remind me of something Rob Liefeld would come up with in the years to follow. The artwork might be amateurish, but it's obvious Bruce Patnaude has a lot of heart and is trying to do his best work. 

So for that, my hat's off to the effort! Also, it's the only book I've reviewed so far that actually made it past issue one. There are six issues of this thing! I truly respect that he kept on cranking his work out and am curious if it gets better as it goes along. 

I actually recently found issues 2 - 4 in a cheap bin at a comics convention and picked them up.
If I can find issues 5 and 6 I'll finish up the series and give an update on our friends the Night Masters somewhere down the line!
Until then, here's a sweet pin-up of Max by Bruce Patnaude from the comic!
And if you like pin ups, here's my version of Sky, one of the bad guys from issue one whose design looks right out of an early '90's Image comic!

Thanks for joining me to check out the Night Masters and be sure to come back next month for Tales of the Techno Mutant Warriors! The cover has a lady with four titties on it so I already know it's gonna rule.