As more and more writers release creator owned work, it becomes increasingly harder to make a series stand out. The Massive not only stand outs amongst the group, but soars above them and demands to be read.
Brian Wood crafts a remarkably real universe. The apocalypse is based off of natural disasters that feel like they COULD happen. The repercussions feel real as well. Weaved in between the world shattering events, Wood gives us a small crew of characters who are interesting. The small group are surprisingly diverse, which seems slightly forced in the beginning. Wood quickly cures this worry, with intricate backstories that are brought up organically. While many would call this a post-apocalyptic book, Wood never uses the specific word. The big event is called “The Crash,” but isn’t viewed as an apocalypse. Everyone views this as a chance to for humans to do it right. An optimistic apocalypse if you will. The Massive ends up being is the entire package. It takes a bunch of things that effectively shouldn’t work, but Wood makes them work. The constant narration, interrupting of stories to explain events that aren’t even mentioned, all add up to a fractured yet brilliant comic.
Kristian Donaldson’s artwork is good, but the book really starts to shine when Garry Brown comes in on art duties. Brown’s art is gritty, and makes this world feel lived in. The only complaint I can see for Brown’s artwork is the lack of mouth movement. Characters can have long conversations, and every one has their mouth closed. Not a massive (see what I did there) problem though. Donaldson’s art conveys the manic life on a ship very well. It looks like a thriller movie. If the two artists had switched art duties as the setting changed, we’d have one beautiful comic. Donaldson’s art could be used on the boat, showing the “ideal” life the crew wants. Brown takes over for off the boat, showing how gritty and un-”ideal” their life actually is.
For extras, The Massive Vol. 1 comes with three eight page stories. These were originally released in Dark Horse Presents. In most trades these days, not much is added for extras. There are usually a few sketches from the artist, but nothing much else. What Dark Horse gives us here is nothing short of fantastic. The stories add some background to the main characters, but a reader doesn’t miss anything important if they skip them. This trade paperback contains The Massive #1-#6, plus the three shorts, so it’s like getting seven issues for the price of six. I’m a comic fan who does have a tight budget for comics, so when I occasionally splurge, I like to get the most for my money.
The Massive Vol. 1 TPB gets 4.5/5.