By: Brian Wood (writer), Declan Shalvey (art), Jordie Bellaire (colors) & Jared K. Fletcher (letters)
The Story: Ninth Wave continues looking for the Massive off the coast of California.
Review: The Massive is a very odd series. For one thing, it isn’t much of an ongoing story. It’s more of a setting and an opportunity to watch some characters roam around and do stuff in this setting. As such, it’s really not a series to review on a monthly basis. When you review a series month-after-month, there is more tendency to focus on what happened in that issue rather than examining the series as a whole. So, having not reviewed the series since the seventh issue, let’s take a look at what is going on….
Well, for one thing, we still don’t really have a plot and what plot we DO have is the weakest part of the issue. We’re still just following a group of people on a ship called the Kapital around the Earth as they do stuff in the post-Crash world and search for their sister ship, the Massive. There’s still no direct antagonist: no warlord taking over the planet who must be stopped, no fight to survive in a post-Crash world….. And there is no real goal. There is no situation where we can toss the One Ring into the Cracks of Doom and suddenly the world will right itself; this world is irrevocably screwed up.
In fact, the weakest part of the plot is the ongoing search for the titular Massive. We still don’t have a reason to care about the the Massive. It isn’t as if all the children of Ninth Wave were on the Massive when it became separated from the Kapital and now the crew of the Kapital is desperate to find their children. I don’t think we know the name of a single person on the Massive. Why would we care if they are found? Further, the longer the series goes, the less credulous I find the search strategy. I mean, the Kapital is just steaming around in the ocean, chasing radar blips. But, we also know that the Kaptial has had their share of adventures along the way and has reprovisioned. Is the Massive just waiting for the Kaptial to finish its business with the Libertarian Oil Platform Pirates from a few issues ago such that when the Kaptial leaves the platforms, the crew of the Massive just says, “Haha…..catch us if you can!” I completely don’t get this plot thread and am almost starting to wonder if the Massive is just some insane creation of Cal Israel’s mind.
So, given that the plot is somewhere between “non-existant” and “full of holes”, why do I still enjoy the series? Well, it’s because the world that Brian Wood is creating in the series is so compelling. I love apocalypse fiction and most of it revolves squarely around the struggle to survive under horrible circumstances caused by zombies/plague/nukes/aliens/vampires (take your pick). The Massive is very different. This world has been given a HUGE kick in the shorts, but the people and the world are persevering. All the people in this world might die someday, but it will take hundreds of years, and in the meantime, those people are going to continue living, doing stuff, getting sick, falling in love, etc. I wish the series showed us more of this “Earth on the Brink” and less of what passes for a plot.
This particular issue told a small tale of perseverance in a unique way. By showing us a Megalodon that had returned from the depths of the ocean after millions of years, this issue showed how a whole species has persevered. It really sells the idea that we Homo sapiens are (naturally) a little self-centered in our world view. The planet was here for a LONG time before us and there’s no reason to assume that our presence on Earth is an unbreakable law of the universe. Seeing a Megaldon come back with a “Thank goodness those noisy humans are gone” attitude was kinda cool as was seeing it completely ignore Mary because she is too small to be worth worrying about. Much like humans might be too small for the planet to worry about?
Artwise, I struggled with this issue a little bit. I’m generally a big fan of Declan Shalvey. I loved his work on 28 Days Later (which is a glorious series, btw) and have also enjoyed him a lot on Thunderbolts and a few other things he’s drawn here and there. The storytelling aspect of the art is fine, but most of it looked a little soft. I also think he drew the Megalodon a little too big; they were 45-60 foot sharks and this thing looks like it’s 300 feet long. Now, where Shalvey did really excel is with drawing the ships and helicopters. Those things are an important aspect of The Massive and it’s pretty easy to screw that stuff up. So, nice job there.
Conclusion: A very intriguing series even if each individual issue is a little odd. The world created by Brian Wood is much more interesting than the plot or the characters.
– Dean Stell