The Massive #2
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Kristian Donaldson
Colors by Dave Stewart
Letters by Jared K. Fletcher
Covers by J. P. Leon, Rafael Grampa
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: July 11, 2012
Cover Price: $3.50
I’m a total sucker for post-apocalypse stories. I can’t get enough bleak survival tales about zombies, ebola, comets, asteroids, super volcanoes, global warming, or any other feasible catastrophe. So, I was immediately drawn to The Massive when I learned about its premise. The story takes place in the near future. All those nasty things that climate scientists have been warning us about hit the world with one giant haymaker: insane weather patterns, floods, droughts, off the scale earthquakes, tsunamis, ocean stagnation, geomagnetic storms — the works. Just based on my expertise acquired from a fervent Science Channel addiction, such a disaster super-combo could conceivably surpass the largest extinction event of all time, The Great Dying of 250 million years ago, which wiped 90% of all life from the face of the planet. Or not.
What would cause the aptly named Crash? That’s the overarching question that The Massive explores as it follows a group of survivors from the Ninth Wave, a “marine conservationist direct action force.” Captain Callum Israel founded the Ninth Wave after initially battling against ecological activists as contractor for Blackbell — no relation to Blackwater. During an operation busting a protest group, Cal had an epiphany after being the lone survivor of a huge tsunami. He fell off the grid, took over a Greenpeace-like protest organization, and transformed it into the Ninth Wave Conservationist Force. This fleet survived The Crash by riding out much of the chaos parked over the Mariana Trench. The story picks up following the aftermath of The Crash and the Ninth Wave’s search for its lost sister ship, The Massive.
In The Massive #2, the search for The Massive continues near Kamchatka. Siberian pirates are on the prowl. Cal and Mag try to avoid detection while attempting to locate Mary, who disappeared in the fog. This issue bounces between the current time and a flashback to when the Kapital limped into what remained of Hong Kong. There Cal and Mary find inspiration as they discover that the city, once a bastion of wasteful excess, was rebuilding itself from the remnants.
The Massive forces readers to contemplate burning questions such as “How exactly did everything just fall off the cliff?” Unlike stories such as Jericho which reveal tidbits about a catastrophe within the storyline, The Massive randomly intersperses cutscenes of background information throughout the comic. I’m not entirely a fan of this approach, but this comic is an ambitious storyline and the information divulged through cutscenes and flashbacks feels necessary.
Right now the characters and motivations are still underdeveloped. The story centers on a small, isolated group of activists; at this point, if Siberian pirates cap any of the Ninth Wave crew, it wouldn’t affect me as long as writer Brian Wood continues to explore the principal storyline. Clues about Cal’s past and motivation are strewn throughout the series in the form memos, flashbacks, and timelines. Readers willing to put in a little extra effort can glean further insight into his character. But Mary and Mag are still largely confined to the sidelines after sharing equal time with Cal in the one-shot prequel. We’re only two issues in; the mysteries surrounding The Crash and the missing ship are tantalizing enough to grant Wood ample time to fully delve into his cast.
Kristian Donaldson portrays a world that is at once familiar and bleak. Perhaps the events of The Massive take place too soon following the Crash, but this isn’t some cornball Waterworld with foot-flipper weirdos drinking their own urine. Donaldson refreshingly avoids utilizing Mad Max-inspired visuals that are all too common for post-apocalyptic stories. Post-Crash Hong Kong, is depicted as an impressive feat of order and cleanliness where the exact opposite is the expectation. Brian Wood exhibits great trust in the art quality by allowing much of the action to speak for itself.
The Massive #2 continues Brian Wood’s slow-play revelation of an unparalleled global catastrophe. The flashbacks are jarring, but helpful in illustrating the required background information. Don’t expect any quick answers; Wood is in no hurry to show his cards. This is one of those comics that are better suited for a trade paperback collection where readers can indulge in larger servings of storytelling goodness. But who’s patient enough to wait for that? I like The Massive, but not as much as I want to like it. Not yet, anyway. I’m interested enough to give it a few more issues for Wood to unveil his hook that’ll reel me in for the long haul. I know it’s coming.