Louis Falcetti writes for Bleeding Cool;
Brian Wood has gone from indie superstar, to mainstream mega-writer. That’s no accident. He’s been putting out boundaries breaking work for over a decade. What makes his creator owned catalog so captivating is his ability to sell not only high concept comics, but high concept comics that start in uncomfortable places and bring the audience through dark futures that make Sweet Tooth look like Shit Heel (one hundred The Boys readers just punched the air). His latest work, for Dark Horse, The Massive is another tale in the proud Wood tradition of dark, modern comics after bringing readers through the DMZ of NYC and the heartbreaking lyricism of DEMO.
If you haven’t read The Massive, #3 just came out this week wrapping up Part One of the story. It’s a dense, challenging comic and I mean that in the best possible way. While The Big Two consistently up the price and drop the pages of content, the indies keep providing more and more incentives to draw readers in. Dark Horse’s MIND MGMT is a perfect example of utilizing every available facet of the comic book form, to deliver a unique, engrossing and totally immersive experience. Image’s Fatale and Mind The Gap both deliver similar cover to cover, jam packed goodness for discerning readers. The Massive is right in step with that crew, in terms of giving you at least $3.50 worth of entertainment (entertainment scientists have estimated that the amount of awesomeness in each issue of The Massive might actually reach as high as $4.75).
Issue 3 brings to a close the first story arc, reuniting Captain Callum Israel (ecoterrorist, rabble rouser, leader, difficult) with his second in command (yet first in his heart) girlfriend Mary. The two were separated back in Issue 1 while dodging pirates in the frozen Bering sea of Kamchatka. The Kapital (Callum’s boat) is searching for The Massive, it’s sister ship in the wake of “The Crash” a year-long series of catastrophic environmental catastrophes that have effectively ruined global human culture. Callum and his crew are Ninth Wave, an environmentalist action group who have more to do now than ever, since nature went tits up.
Long before Issue 1 had even hit the stands, Wood posted a picture to his tumblr of the scariest books about the future of the planet I have ever seen. At the time I remember thinking how impossible it would be for me to function with the knowledge of that many plausible, nightmare eco-pocalypse futures looming. Now I can see what Woods exhaustive nature has resulted in. He’s taken every “worst case scenario” environmental scenario and piled them all on top of one another. The narrative flow of the story, which is already jumpy, is also intercut with brief descriptions of the seemingly endless series of disasters no doubt culled from those very pages. Which gives The Massive a chilling, real world vein of terror outdoing anything with the shambling undead or face stealing psychopaths.
But the book isn’t all doom and gloom, if anything the characters who make up Ninth Wave not only look on the bright side (in a fallen world, corporations can’t rape the planet of it’s resources as easily or at all in most cases) but work to bring the small good things to head. Members still try to stick to the group’s core pacifist charter, but pirates and other ominous groups with guns prove challenging and unrelenting.
I admit that I have to read each issue of The Massive at least twice to fully understand everything Wood is throwing at me, but since when is reading a great comic twice something that should be considered a bad thing? I also have failed to mention the extremely expert work of Kristian Donaldson (who’s teamed with Wood before on Supermarket) and Dave Stewart providing the art and colors for the series. Together Donaldson and Stewart create humbling scenes of ecological fury while at the same time drawing extremely human and emotional characters. Everything about this book feels real. Nothing is black and white, not the characters and certainly not the art. A series likes this deserves a run as long as it needs as it conveys environmentalist thinking in an action filled humanist package.
From the now totally flooded city of Hong Kong to Unalaska, The Massive is giving you a tour of a world both recognizable and totally alien. Hop on board before the next story arc kicks off so you don’t freeze to death, alone, in a sea of cross over events and reboots.
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