The Massive #1
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Kristian Donaldson
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Review by Bobby Shortle
Comic books afford a rare opportunity for my media saturated brain to experience genuine surprises, but I too often deny myself those opportunities because I get caught up in buying 4000 Avengers, X-Men and Batman books. This week I dedicded I would forgo purchasing tired event tie ins and instead branch out to something wholly new. The Massive #1 was a completely blind buy for me, I didn’t research what it was about or who the creators were, I simply walked into our local shop and picked it up. I’m glad I did because The Massive #1 was a powerhouse start to a promising series, that will now find a permanent spot on my pull list.
The Massive tells the the story of The Ninth Wave, an oceanic activist group, that have found themselves survivors of a catastrophe known only as “The Crash.” In issue one we follow the crew of the Ninth Wave’s flagship vessel Kapital as they search the seas for their sister ship, the titular “Massive.”
Writer Brian Wood has taken tropes that we are familiar with, unlikely character combinations, post apocalyptic worlds, high seas adventure, rescue missions, dense mythology, and slung them together into a mix that feels wholly unique. In fact, you probably have never seen the story of Conservationists trying to find their place in a world after the apocalypse, but it’s a perfect dichotomy of ideas, people who continue trying to save the world even after it has ended, that after reading The Massive you will wonder why that is.
However, an interesting intellectual exercise does not make a great book and it’s such an abstract idea that it would be easy for a writer to lose his story in it, but Wood smartly avoids this by creating a very identifiable problem for his characters to solve; Their friends are missing and they will do anything they can to find them. Simple, effective and yet powerful, this idea gives the entire story a weight and immediacy that drives the narrative forward with ease.
There is also a lot to the world that Brian Wood has created and it seems the writer knows it. There are pages upon pages of captions recounting the way the cataclysmic disaster unfolded and while these are largely expositional, they are also completely enthralling. The best comparison I can give is to Max Brooks’ brilliant novel World War Z. That book recounted the zombie apocalypse in the form of an oral history and the historical accounts in The Massive feel very much in that same vein. Wood gives just enough to hook you with these information dumps, but not enough to sap the mystery out of the world he is building. This tactic creates a great balance between being satisfied with the issue in hand and salivating over the one to come.
Building a believable mythology and a world that feels like it has a life of its own is a tall task and one that Wood seems up to. He also seems quite adept at creating characters with rich histories and varying personalities. Issue one sees his crew in immediate danger from a hostile force and this allows us to see the broad strokes of each member’s personality. This allows us to learn quite a bit about each one very quickly, and I like what I see so far. But if Wood really wants The Massive to be something special the crew of the Kapital is going to have to go beyond basic character tropes and become unique people in their own right. I don’t expect this in a first issue, but if the characters in The Massive end up being half as developed as the world they inhabit, this is going to be something special to behold.
Buy It – Unique storytelling in familiar genres is always my favorite kind of narrative and The Massive #1 is just that. It sports a fascinating world, an effectively simple premise and characters who I know just enough about to want to see more of. The art in the book is generally excellent, but I don’t love the character designs all that much. In lesser books this would be a flaw I’d have a tough time getting over, but fortunately there is so much else to like in this book that I don’t mind one bit. Get this!