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June 6, 2012

Dark Horse Reviews: Brian Wood’s The Massive #1

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Written by: Kevin
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Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Kristian Donaldson
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Cover Artists: Brian Wood, Kristian Donaldson
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publication Date: June 13, 2012
Format: FC, 32 pages
Price: $3.50
UPC: 7 61568 20024 9 00111


Just when you thought there was no way anyone could squeeze more life out of the post-apocalyptic premise, one of the oldest, most overused cliché settings in all of science fiction, along comes The Massive #1 from Dark Horse Comics.

Now, before you think this review is going to be as negative and sarcastic as a Matthew Perry soliloquy on Friends, it’s important to point out up front that I recognize that it’s virtually impossible to come up with a brand new, original storyline, and this particular post-apocalyptic series has all of the necessary ingredients to become one of the best in comics in quite awhile.

The fact that wunderkind writer Brian Wood – the scribe who penned such future classics as DMZ, Northlanders, and Demo – is piloting The Massive’s nautical-themed, ecological and environmentalist adventure plot line, is reason enough to garner a recommendation. Mix in the realistic-yet-nuanced shadowy artwork of Wood’s frequent collaborator Kristian Donaldson (Supermarket, Fallen Angel, DMZ), and you’ve got about as close to a sure thing as you’re gonna get in comic book land.

With anticipatory talk fluttering about for a while, and a one-shot digital teaser appearing earlier this year, perhaps the only thing that could sink The Massive might be living up to and hopefully surpassing all the hype that’s preceded its June 13 release date.

So, what’s the story already?!

Glad you asked.

In the not-too-distant future, a series of cataclysmic environmental disasters has wreaked havoc on the Earth’s fragile ecosystem, wiping out millions of its inhabitants and potentially hastening the planet’s inevitable demise. Our hero, Callum Israel, and his Ninth Wave Conservationist Force crew aboard the Kapital, ply the oceans around the world, searching for their lost sister ship, The Massive, fending off attacks from some of the ravaged world’s population who, in their desperate situation, have become opportunistic pirates, thieves, and murderers. A certain level of preachy rhetoric is inevitable, given the series’ somewhat politically charged subject matter. While Wood does appear to at least try to be objective, the overall tone of the story will no doubt turn off readers who don’t buy all the global warming and other climate change theories.

The original spin The Massive brings to the post-apocalyptic genre is its oceanic setting. We aren’t inundated with panel after panel and page after page of graphic, Walking Dead-type blood, guts, and gore. Instead, we learn the specifics of the ecological disasters via sepia-toned flashbacks, which in this reviewer’s humble opinion, is the coolest part of this series opener.

Kevin P. Hanson



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