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

The Story: Will Georg launch the missiles from the Russian sub?  Can Cal and Mag stop him?

Review (with SPOILERS): It’s a little depressing how this series can’t quite capitalize on its tremendous promise.  Brian Wood and his artistic collaborators have created a fantastically interesting world in The Massive.  There is so much potential in this world and Wood seems like the type of writer who is interested in telling thought-provoking tales that have a coherent theme and message, yet we keep getting issues like this one.

I actually had to retype this review a couple of times.  The first effort turned into this 2000 word screed where I was ripping apart various scenes of the comic in a blow-by-blow fashion.  I realized that nobody wants to read THAT.  So, I tried again and had the same thing happened.  Then I restarted a third time and it got a little better, but still not quite the tone I wanted…..and now we have this.

Let’s just say that there are a LOT of problems with this issue.  Mostly, it just isn’t clear what is going on.  The opening scene is really confusing.  I mean, I saw Mag get the abort signal and saw him leave the bathroom, but really didn’t understand the impact of Georg being left behind until much later in the issue.  The thing is, there was no dramatic purpose to the opening scene being vague and unclear; it’s not a mystery that “pays off” later in the issue.  It was just sloppy storytelling.  You could blame the artist a little bit since it is mostly a silent sequence and the art really isn’t very clear, but I’m not sure how he could have done better.  I think Wood just wrote a scene that was pretty tough to illustrate and then there was no subsequent communication between artist and writer to fix it.  I wonder if that’s the kind of thing that happens when you’re writing The Massive, X-Men and also wrestling with the Lucas/Disney braintrust over your Star Wars outlines?

Lots of other questionable things in this issue: How did Mag get on top of the building?  Where did the US Navy vessels go?  Why did Mag need Mary to drive the zodiac?  What was the deal with all those knowing glances from Mary?  Why is it continually implied that Mary is up to something when we see nothing to indicate that she is up to something?  Why didn’t Georg just tell Mag that he was launching the missiles into the ocean to get rid of them (if that IS what happened)?  And then there are the things that don’t happen in the issue: Why is there no mention of finding The Massive when that has been a major theme of the series?  Why is there no mention of Callum’s cancer?  Why are there no dramatic images of The Kapital steaming through flooded Manhattan?

It’s just a troubling issue.  I could write 500 words about each of the questions above, but that’s just going to sound like a crappy rant and nobody needs that.

My overall impression of this series is that the setting created by Brian Wood and his colleagues is fascinating.  I’m just not sure that I’m interested in reading about the adventures of this group of people and the problems they’re facing.  I’m pretty sure there are interesting stories in this setting, but they’re happening somewhere else.  We’re fifteen issues in and so far this series is full of promise, but it has yet to really close the deal on a storyline.

Conclusion: A troublingly poor issue concludes an initially promising story-arc.  I’m very discouraged that this series cannot seem to get any momentum.

Grade: C-

– Dean Stell