‘The Massive: Library Edition Volume 1’ - Advance Hardcover Review

I’ve wanted to read this for a while, so I found it most auspicious when I was offered the chance to review the trade paperback of Volume One (Library Edition). It possesses many of the things I like in a story: scifi, mystery, and a post-apocalyptic world. Written by Brian Wood with most of the art done by Kristian Donaldson and Garry Brown, it offers up a world not far off from our own.

Callum Israel is a disillusioned mercenary who leaves his life of violence to found a group called the Ninth Wave. Refurbishing an old ship which they name the Kapital, the group works with a larger ship called, The Massive. They are direct action conservationists who, like Greenpeace, record environmental events and use non-violent means to stop abuses; however, a series of catastrophic events, man-made and natural, cause societies and cultures to implode. In North America, both the east and west coasts are submerged. Tsunamis devastate continents, global economies crash, magnetic storms bring down satellites, and what’s worse for Callum and his crew—The Massive disappears during a storm.
Now, the mission is to find their sister ship and try to stay alive.

Faced with pirates, storms, and despots who have taken over deep sea drilling stations, Callum depends on Mag (an old mercenary buddy), Lars (a good guy in over his head), and a woman named Mary to help run the ship. They are a ragtag team, but it works. Callum almost always has to reel in Mag from his former violent ways while Mary is the real mystery. She is not only able save herself in the direst of situations, but others as well. As in any good story, Callum possesses secrets of his own as well as other members of the crew.

The comic is structured in a series of flashbacks that not only develop character, but move along the story. Pacing is done extremely well as we are given just enough pieces of the puzzle to be satisfied and yet intrigued at the same time. Each chapter leaves you wanting to know more which is great. Initially, I did find it off-putting that we were not given any background information on Mary like we were for all the other male characters, but as I read on it became apparent why. Mary is the enigma. She is strong, resourceful, and pretty much super-human at times. I imagine who and what she is will be revealed in a later issue.

My only bump was that two-thirds of the way into the book, Callum and Mag suddenly didn’t trust Mary after all the amazing things she had done for them. Her loyalty should never have been in question, and I found it odd that it came up here, then never happened again.

I loved the art of Donaldson and Brown. They seemed to have really nailed the characters and their nuances; however, the art for the Polaris sections of “Breaker” and “Nunatak” didn’t quite equal the previous chapters. In “Breaker,” it seemed like the artist felt compelled to give Mary and Lars a softer, more feminine look which neither had before. “Nuntak” I simply did not care for, but taste in art is subjective.

The theme of how the ocean speaks to us in different ways recurs throughout the story. I suspect that since life evolved from the sea, the writer is using that primordial call to teach us lessons we might not otherwise want to learn.

I look forward to the next volume.

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