A total of 75 syndicated episodes of M.A.S.K. were broadcast from 1985 to 1986. One of many cartoons produced during the 1980s as a vehicle for toy merchandising, M.A.S.K. (which is an acronym for the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand), was a hybrid of popular era cartoons G.I. Joe and The Transformers. It featured a special task force featuring an array of characters, led by Matt Trakker, with transforming vehicles engaged in an ongoing battle against the criminal organization V.E.N.O.M. (an acronym for the Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem), with an emphasis on super-powered helmets called masks worn by the characters on the show.
The original series focused mainly on the vehicles and characters from the original 1985 toy line. More characters were introduced as the line expanded with a second wave in 1986. The format for the last season of the show featured a racing theme to correspond with the theme of the third wave M.A.S.K. toys. A major difference from the first season is by the second, V.E.N.O.M. agents knew the personal identities of the M.A.S.K. team, whereas V.E.N.O.M. did not know their identities during the first season. The second season lasted for only ten episodes. There is a storyline difference in the mini comic books which came with each toy. In the comics, Miles Mayhem knew the identity of Matt Trakker and had originally helped start the M.A.S.K. team but betrayed him later. This was very similar to the second series of the cartoon.
Due to the short-lived nature and new format of the racing series, many characters from the first season were given reduced roles to establish the new cast members and their vehicles, or to reintroduce older characters with new masks and vehicles. Buddy Hawks began using the name "Clutch" and gained a more prominent role with a double-act partnership with agent Boris "The Tzar" Bushkin. Matt Trakker and Miles Mayhem's rivalry remained strong, but the two usually only appeared in their own focus episodes. Other V.E.N.O.M. operations against M.A.S.K. agents were now exclusively handled by Vanessa Warfield.
The toyline's fourth and final wave went to one other variation, "Split Seconds", in which the vehicles sold under the line would split from one whole into two different vehicles for a M.A.S.K. pilot and a "clone" holographic partner (a transparent version of the same figure carried with the vehicle), but the cartoon was not renewed for the fourth wave. Besides the cartoon and toys, there were also various merchandising products like sticker books and comics to capitalize on the success of the show.
In the DC Comics series, the M.A.S.K. team is sponsored by an organization called the Peaceful Nations Alliance (PNA). Their exact relationship is never explained. The liaison between the P.N.A. and M.A.S.K. is Duane Kennedy. Duane and the P.N.A. did appear in the cartoon, although in a much more limited role in such episodes as "The Roteks" and "Assault On Liberty".
It is never made clear what sort of criminal organization V.E.N.O.M. is, exactly. They were not the typical world-conquering villains and their schemes mostly revolve around profiting from illegal activities and doing mercenary services. The comics tried to give them a more believable background. They appear to be the foot soldiers of an even higher evil organization called Contraworld. Like M.A.S.K. and P.N.A., their relationship is not explained, nor are Contraworld's larger goals.
When originally broadcast, M.A.S.K. was the first closed-captioned series to air in first-run syndication.
In 2008, twenty-two years after M.A.S.K.'s cancellation, a Matt Trakker figure was released as part of the G.I. Joe toyline, with the codename "Specialist Trakker". His filecard states that V.E.N.O.M. was created by Cobra instead of the comic series' Contraworld. The release of "Specialist Trakker" has caused speculation of a M.A.S.K. revival.
This post has been edited by Martok: 28 November 2010 - 06:58 AM