I’ve just read through the first twelve issues of The Massive from Dark Horse Comics. I picked them up on a whim, the post-apocalyptic adventure-at-sea premise pressing all the right button for me.
The book began as a three-part series in the pages of Dark Horse Presents, a book whose alumni inclused Frank Millar’s Sin City. Basically the world has gone to shit, with literally every type of environmental cataclysm occurring simultaneously; like the Earth just put its foot down and said enough is enough.
Callum Israel, born in Bangladesh of western parents, is a mercenary turned eco-warrior and the founder of Ninth Wave. Think of a bouquet outfit somewhere between Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherds. Callum is the captain of the Kapital. Since the world went to pieces in the year-long series of disasters known as The Crash, he has been searching for The Massive, the other ship in his fleet. The illusive craft always there, just over the horizon- occasionally showing up on radar, before disappearing into the aether.
The stories focus on what it takes to survive as a group of pacifist eco-warriors in a world gone to pieces. The ship needs fuel and the crew need food and water. Whilst Ninths Wave’s former celebrity/notoriety opens some doors it doesn’t stop Callum from suffering the guilt of his past and questioning the morals of his crew and himself in the present.
His crew are a band of misfits consisting of reformed thugs and terrorists, as well as wide-eyed ideologists. Each has a story which is told via flashbacks, serving to flesh out the characters and give us an understanding of there actions during the story.
The Kapital takes its crew of rather redundant, the world having gone to shit, eco-warriors to interesting locales; like the semi-submerged trading post of Hong Kong, an abandoned water-rich Antarctic research station and sovereign nation of portable drilling platforms – called Moksha – coupled together in the Indian Ocean.
As much as I want to delve into the story, I’m not going to spoil it. What I will let on is that it isn’t a bunch of vegetarian trust-fund whingers bitching about cars and recycling. The story involves trading with arms dealers, utopias that are anything but and armed assaults on SAS protected British container ships. It’s an action pack book that is actually pretty light on any environmental message that you may have been expecting.
As well as the main story, each issue is filled with supporting text giving readers insight into the action of Ninth Wave and the crew of the Kapital, via faux interviews and articles. Not required reading, but it does go some way to sate the hunger for more at the end of each issue.
From issues three the series original artist, Kristian Donaldson, passes illustration duties over to Gary Brown; both of whom have a very similar art style that fits the tone of the book completely, it’s well drawn and neither too “house style” or too flamboyant. Issue twelve’s art is handled by Danijel Zezelj whilst not bad either was a bit of a shock, the change in style from fine ink lines to a thick, almost marker pen look, taking a bit of getting used to. I’m not sure if the regular artist is having a break or if the touch has been passed. No matter as all the book’s artists do a cracking job illustrating Brian Wood’s seafaring post-apocalyptic eco-adventure.
I was expecting some eco-friendly hippy-slush force-feeding me some liberal sustainability agenda. The Massive isn’t like that at all. If you can get over the unlikely disaster scenario, what you have is a pretty well grounded tale of a group of seafaring survivors of the apocalypse.
If you like “event” books as a change from the usual super-hero fayre, I’d recommend that you check out The Massive. Whilst it is more Y: The Last Man than The Preacher, fans of both may get something out of the book. For eco-concious hippy-types and self-righteous, Prius-owning liberals, buying the The Massive is a no-brainer.