Tuesday, June 12, 2012
The Massive #1
Artist: Kristian Donaldson
Company: Dark Horse Comics
Brian Wood doesn't shy away from big concepts with his books. Neither does he back away from books that tackle controversial subjects that ask questions with complex answers that aren't exactly easy to find. The Massive is one of those kinds of books wrapped up in the shiny hull of a Post Apocalyptic meets Sci-Fi thrill ride. The first issue is a bit of a slow burn. There are numerous information dumps spread throughout the issue. The term infodump usually has a bad connotation that comes along with it, but the kind that are found here aren't of that genus. The ideas that Wood gets down on the page have that make you think quality to them and quickly and succinctly build an ominous world with hundreds of dark shadows to poke at.
The crux of the story centers on the members of an environmentalist group searching for their sister ship among the chaos, named The Massive, and their ultimate survival and place in the world. There's a back and forth, time jump quality, to the story that allows the story to unfold at a very mild and bookish pace. Some might call it too slow, but it's used well and makes the introduction of each member a bit more memorable. There's mystery in each of them, of course, but their actions and how they deal with the problems that they face on the open waters of the world speak with a louder voice. I especially enjoyed the take on the Captain, Callum Israel. In some ways, the way we find out about the characters and the story in general reminds me a bit of The River, the ABC tv series. Not that there are toothy monsters around every corner here, but their approach to diving into a new world with new sets of rules is similar.
On the art side of things we have Kristian Donaldson, the man behind Supermarket, and more recently the original graphic novel 99 Days. Again, I'll mention realism, as Donaldson gets all of the details right. The boat looks like a boat, the guns look like guns, the animals look like animals. Sounds cheesy, but there are times when these things, these details, aren't taken seriously and kill the mood of a book. He also does a great job of giving each character that appears his or her own distinct look. In a story that happens to have a large cast, that kind of thought makes things simpler and the story to keep its flow. Also, Donaldson simply kicks ass with his detailed and confident lines.
While I do think that there is a plethora of post apocalyptic stories out their for the masses to devour, The Massive does a great job of cutting through the competition and bringing something new to the table. These things plus a cool collection of "back-matter", papers and stories that further flesh out the world and the members of the Ninth Wave Oceanic Activist group, make this a killer of a first issue.