By: Brian Wood (writer), Danijel Zezelj (art), Jordie Bellaire (colors) and Jared K. Fletcher (letters)

The Story: Callum Israel keeps chasing after The Massive.

Review (with little SPOILERS): I said in last issue’s review that The Massive isn’t really “a series to review on a monthly basis”.  Yet–due to a light week–The Massive is back under the bright lights again.  Let’s see how this deliberately-paced series fares when faced with monthly pressure to create a “discussable moment.”
The problems that have troubled The Massive since it’s inception are still here.  It still makes no damn sense that the Kapital could have chased the Massive all over the ocean like this.  Is the Massive never looking back?  Is their radar broken?  If so, wouldn’t the crew of the Massive take up extra visual watches?  Maybe the crew of the Massive isn’t interested in finding the Kapital, but keeping a lookout would seem to be good a good anti-pirate measure.  And isn’t the Massive a larger ship than the Kapital?  Generally larger ships have taller superstructures and that means that a lookout can see farther toward the horizon.  Thus, the Massive should be able to see the Kapital before the Kaptial can see the Massive.

And how are the speeds of the two ships so perfectly matched that neither gains nor loses position with the Massive dancing just on the edge of radar range?  It makes me think of when I’m passing someone on the interstate with my cruise control turned on; if you bump the speed up just 1 mph you move right past that person.  This whole chase makes no damn sense, but it intrigues me because Brian Wood has generally shown himself to be a fastidious writer who doesn’t make stupid mistakes.

Possibility #1: Brian Wood has some clever plan and we just haven’t seen it yet.  Maybe everyone on the Massive is dead and the ship is on autopilot?  Maybe the crew of the Massive wants to get away from Callum Israel?  Maybe the Massive has been hijacked and the pirates want to get away from that pesky ship that keeps following them?

Possibility #2: Brian Wood is stretched a little too thin between The Massive, writing X-Men comics at Marvel (including launching a new X-Men title), writing a Star Wars series and dealing with the notoriously picking people who protect the SW continuity, etc.  Isn’t he writing a Conan series too?

While I hope for #1 (and am starting to fear #2), let’s consider what this series does well and why it has it’s hooks so deeply into my brain.  Why am I still generally enjoying The Massive when I’ve lost interest in a title like Mind Mgmt?  Well, it comes back to this super-interesting world that Brian Wood has created.  I love the idea of a world that is crashing, but not dead yet.  Life goes on.  This world seems like something that could actually happen as compared to most apocalypse-fiction.  And that fits Brian Wood very well: whether it is Channel Zero or DMZ, he’s always had an interest in writing stories that take today’s threats and amplify them a little bit.  I love this setting even if I am starting to wish I could see a different part of it than Callum Israel’s miserable band of characters.

The art in this issue was a mixed bag for me.  I really love Danijel Zezelj.  He’s an artist who I’d LOVE to own a piece of original art from if I could just find wherever he sells it.  That being said, I’m not sure this is his strongest issue.  Part of it isn’t his fault. The Massive is rotating artists too quickly and because of that, we don’t have good visual cues for what these characters look like.  The other problem is that I’m not sure the material in The Massive plays to Zezelj’s strengths.  To be an elite artist, you need a go-to skill.  Zezelj is probably the best artist currently working at drawing a haggard and haunted, yet strong woman.  Think of his Icelandic women in Northlanders or his sex-slave Russian immigrant in Luna Park or the carnies he drew in American Vampire.  The only woman he really has to play with in The Massive is Mary, but she isn’t haggard or haunted; Mary is the font of all hope in this series.  When you take away Zezelj’s best skill, he becomes just another good artist.  Now, he does ace all the snowscape scenes of Callum finding that ice shelf.  Maybe that’s another elite skill for Zezelj?

Conclusion: This series continues to confound.  I love this peri-apocalypse setting that Brian Wood has created, but I’m starting to wonder if Callum Israel’s story is the most interesting thing to watch therein.

Grade: B-

– Dean Stell