Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Trade Waiting - The Massive Vol 1

The Massive is an ongoing book from Dark Horse written by Brian Wood. This trade collects the first six issues, which is the first two arcs, and features art from Kristian Donaldson and Garry Brown. The book focuses on the crew of the Kapital, a ship adrift in a world ravaged by environment cataclysms, as they search for their long lost sister ship, The Massive. These introductory arcs establish the world and the characters extremely well and the book is my hot tip to win an Eisner award for best new series. Learn why you need this trade after the jump.

The Massive
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Kristian Donaldson and Garry Brown
I am in love with this book. For many reasons. There is a very high concept at play, a ship wearily traversing the battles of life in this new landscape ravaged by a changed environment, but within this Wood contains the narrative tightly so it becomes a character study at its highest moments. The crew of the Kapital is a varied bunch and throughout is first trade there are many reasons to come to trust, love, hate, and become intrigued by this disparate group of rogues and scoundrels.
Having three issue arcs is so incredibly important to why The Massive succeeds. Wood is forcing himself to be tight and concise. The results are short narrative shards that don't meander and only present the most pertinent and entertaining points possible. With such a broad concept and landscape, a loose artist could create forever in this world and never really do much except dog pile cool ideas on top of each other until the house of cards falls down. Wood, instead, opts to craft his soldiers and then detail their thoughts and weapons for us so we care with everything we've got.
Wood already showed us the ability to drop bombs of story in neat parcels through DMZ and Northlanders and he's doing it again right now with this book, as well as Conan the Barbarian. Those books were classics and this time you've still got time to get in on the ground floor. Structure seems to be key whether it's the density of plot or the punctuation of establishing shots within his episodic issues. Wood is a craftsman who cares just as much about how he tells a tale as to what the tale he tells holds. He inherently understand that comics is about delivery as much as the parcel delivered.
The Massive is a book that thrives on its art and both Kristian Donaldson and Garry Brown live up to the challenge. They are each as adept at building the nautical world of the waves and seas stations as they are constricting the men and women of the Kapital. Wood seems to always want as much emotion out of his stage as he does his players upon it and both artists are fully capable of bringing such power to the page.
Donaldson is the man who helped launch this book and he does a fantastic job of setting everything up. He creates and designs with high craftsmanship. And yet, Garry Brown is my favourite of the two mostly due to his character work. It doesn't hurt that his Callum Israel looks a lot like David Mazzucchelli's Matt Murdock.
The cast of The Massive is wide and varied which means you're spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a favourite. Callum Israel is the leader, and possibly the lead of the book, and around his morally questionable ethics the others revolve. It's nice to see a cast diverse in ethnicity and gender. The world of this book is as rag tag as you would expect the end of the world to be.
The story ranges somewhere between high water action and hard logic cautionary tale. Wood blends the line between diatribe and commanding author voice of narrative. You will learn Inge as you read this book. You will also enjoy yourself immensely as the drama unfolds. While waiting for a better understanding of where their sister ship is, the crew of the Kapital wander in and out of adventures and try to do the right thing.
One superb issue shows them trying to obtain goods from a long forgotten boat adrift at sea. This is a plausible situation and becomes more so when we find the ship protected with brute force by others. Other pages are full of character flashbacks that will make you feel on a different level.
Verdict - Must Read. A smart comic, something truly erudite, can be a beautiful thing. It requires more of and from you but is so very worth it in the end. The Massive is one of those books you have to be thankful for because Wood has a message but he plants it deep within a satisfying story and around it all is superb art. This is my favourite new ongoing from 2012 and it's not slowing down any so get in on this trade and catch up.

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