Kabuki has vanished without a trace, leaving a path of destruction in her wake. The remaining seven Noh agents are assigned to track her down and return to Tokyo with her or with positive evidence of her death. Scarab, Snapdragon, Siamese, Butoh, Ice, and Tiger Lily are all ruthless killers, but with Kabuki fled and the Noh administration in disarray, each woman in her own way begins to question her identity and her place in the world. Masks of the Noh offers us a glimpse into the daytime life of Siamese, conjoined sisters surgically separated and fitted with super-b bionic arms. Although they are now physically separate, Siamese still finish each other’s sentences, share a single name, and apparently communicate without speaking: an interesting portrait of the left and right sides of the brain. In another part of town, Tiger Lily meets up with Scarab after a brutal beating and both women realize that they have never met without their masks on before. Interestingly, Scarab is a comic book writer and illustrator who uses her pens and ink to expunge feelings of guilt, fear, and uncertainly before and after a job for the Noh. This kind of vignette gives us a glimpse into the private lives of women who have so far been portrayed as invulnerable and devoid of emotion, adding significantly to the story’s impact. At the end of these short stories, all of Mack’s characters are fully human, albeit still inhumanly powerful, agile, and intelligent. Masks of the Noh is co-authored by a star-studded cast of illustrators including Rick Mays and Michael Oeming. All these drawing styles blend seamlessly, but each story presents a subtly different take on black ink, white spaces, and the setting of a scene.
Kabuki, vol. 3: Masks of the Noh
By David Mack, Rick Mays, Michael Avon Oeming
Image Comics 1998