Comic Review: The Massive #1

The Massive #1
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Kristian Donaldson
Color by Dave Stewart
Cover by Brian Wood, Kristian Donaldson
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: June 13, 2012
Cover Price: $3.50

Brian Wood is no stranger to catastrophe. Well, more accurately his writing is no stranger to catastrophe. Collapse, whether it is political, social, financial, or personal, typically accompanies his work. His latest project, The Massive, has been long awaited and is now finally here. This time, Wood takes an entire planet on the verge of destruction and looks at it on a miniature scale. Instead of focusing on the endless outcomes that global breakdown could have on societies, Wood follows a small group of environmentalists searching for answers. The Massive #1 is Wood at his best. He is taking something infinitely beyond most people’s comprehension and giving it a name. The Massive #1 is not a flawless comic for what it is, but it is perfect for what it will be.

Much of this comic has been shrouded in the unknown, so I will avoid any spoilers from here on. It is clear that Wood will be taking The Massive in a variety of compelling and, with any luck, satisfying directions. When reading this comic, it can be seen from two perspectives. The first being that global disaster that is the setting for this comic. Wood clearly explains what has become of the world and to his credit he lays it all out flawlessly. Most disaster comics will give readers a look into a catastrophe but never truly go into the cause and effect. Every terrible event in The Massive #1 has a consequence that dwarfs the one preceding it. Which Wood shows this through a series of beautifully choreographed pseudo-flashbacks. The second segment of The Massive #1 is broken into the relationships of this comic’s characters. Wood is able to flesh out a handful of characters with carefully constructed action and dialogue that is nothing less than incredible. Again, Wood plays with the idea that every action has a reaction. But this time he is not deploying tsunamis and earthquakes. He is focusing on stolen glances and comforting words among shipmates.

The artwork of Kristian Donaldson shows the same level of control and precision that Wood deploys in his writing. The selling point of this comic is emotion and relationships. Donaldson’s illustrations are beautiful examples of what can be done with art replaces words. A clenched jaw or raised eyebrow can define the intensity of a panel, which Donaldson does time and time again in The Massive #1. Donaldson’s characters are everything that can be created when an artist steps out of the preconceived notions of comic book art. Men and women in The Massive #1 are not just carbon copies of perfect human specimens. They are all infinitely unique and compelling in their own way.

Though it may seem like hyperbole, The Massive #1 is a precursor to a comic series that could be Brian Wood’s masterpiece. The Massive #1 is an inspiration for writers, artists, comic readers and anyone else pursuing creativity in all of its forms.

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