Book Review #25: Mask of the Red Panda (Issues 1&2) by Gregg Taylor

morp_01_00_color.0x170Title: Mask of the Red Panda
Author: Gregg Taylor
Artist: Dean Kotz
Publisher: Monkeybrain Comics
Release Date: February-April 2013
Available Formats: ecomic through comixology


If you’ve read many of my reviews at all, or talked to me on Twitter (@odin1eye), you probably know I’m a big fan of Gregg Taylor and Decoder Ring Theatre. I discovered The Red Panda and Black Jack Justice fairly early on in my podcast fiction addiction and I believe it is the only podcast that isn’t devoted to a single story that I still subscribe to. So when Mr. Taylor announced that Mask of the Red Panda would be released as a three issue comic story arc, it was a no brainer for me to pick them up.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: With his city set to become a battleground between otherworldly forces seeking unspeakable power, the Red Panda battles to gain the upper hand. An occasionally mad scientist, a utility belt full of anti-magic tech and the ever-present sassy sidekick – will it be enough to thwart the growing menace? Bringing to life characters from The Red Panda Adventures, Decoder Ring Theatre’s award-winning radio drama series, Mask of the Red Panda is pulse-pounding pulp perfection for all those who love the classic two-fisted adventures of the golden age of radio, classic movie serials and the hero pulps.  (Stolen from

Setting: As with all things Red Panda, Mask of the Red Panda takes place in Toronto. The Panda is Canada’s greatest superhero afterall. The art and story make Toronto come to life in a 1930 noir love affair with the city.

Plot: Early on in the Red Panda’s career, fiends of the supernatural were quite common. Well, more common. Okay, heck, the Panda has always been, and always will be, a magnet for the supernatural baddy. That’s okay. With his trusty sidekick the Flying Squirrel (yes, boss) there will be action aplenty before we see the evil slink away to hide far away from Toronto and the Red Panda.

Characters: The book centers around the Red Panda and the Flying Squirrel. They are neck deep in V’rahill, which kind of remind me of skinny rabid gargoyles from another dimension. There are other supporting characters, but truly: it has the Red Panda and the Flying Squirrel. What else do you need?

Art: Mr. Kotz has done a phenomenal job with the art. The characters live and breath in a manner I never would have quite anticipated. The lack of colour only makes the art more perfect for Mr. Taylor’s Toronto and characters. If Mr. Taylor has any say so, I’d recommend he borrow some of Mr. Kotz art from the books for a refresh of the Decoder Ring site.

Odin’s recommendation: Go. Buy. These. Books. At .99 an issue, you’re only going to be out about $3 total. For 90 odd pages of art and story (total), this is a remarkable price. The story is easily worth that for each issue without art. I went cold turkey on my comic book addiction in the late 90’s. I’m ready to rethink that if we can convince Monkeybrain Comics to make Mask of the Red Panda a regular release.

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