Trouble with Comics

Massive Dump

And another series drops off my list as Brian Wood’s The Massive #2 shows that Wood, at times, forgets how to write anything someone would want to read. Dystopic adventure on the high seas, motherfucker! You have to work to make that boring, but Wood succeeds, with still-empty characters and almost nothing happening. Exotic names like Kamchatka and some statistics aren’t what readers want. Give us something happening, and happening to people we care about. I really wanted to like this series, and I say this without any rancor, because I know Wood can write good work sometimes, but it’s terrible.

The Massive #1

Writer/Creator: Brian Wood

Artist: Kristian Donaldson

Dark Horse Comics. $3.50 USD

Brian Wood is back with another dystopic science fiction comic. But unlike DMZ, this one is set on water. That makes sense, as global warming is going to melt the polar ice caps and cover more land. But this isn’t Waterworld. It feels much more inspired by the Discovery Channel show, Whale Wars. Wood takes a serious gamble on credibility with his lead character Callum Israel (“Call Him Ishmail?”), captain of a ship called the Kapital, a kind of ecoterrorist who’s now searching for sister ship, The Massive. As one would expect, there’s quite a bit of exposition, introduction of characters (his first mate doesn’t have anything interesting to do, another crew member, Mary, is tough and appears to be his girlfriend). They fight some pirates, they head to the half-submerged Hong Kong, we end.

I notice Wood holds the sole copyright on this one, so I’m guessing there will be another artist after the first story arc. Which is good, because Donaldson is boring, with a style like a much more controlled, detailed, but stiff John Romita, Jr. True, Wood gives him a lot of scenes of people talking on a shit, but hey, there’s some fighting and that should be more fun to watch. 

I don’t mean to be too hard on the book, but look, this should have been a real kick in the ass. Disaster, adventure on the high seas, a world we knew lost forever, a quest…Instead we get some dry exposition, an action scene that wasn’t any fun at all and seemed to be included almost under protest, and so far, dull characters. It also suffers from Too-Good-Cover Syndrome, where a killer cover (in this case, two: a majestic shot by Wood himself and an otherworldly image of a jellyfish just beneath the surface by Rafael Grampa) makes the reader ache when he sees the ho-hum art inside. I think Wood can write, and there’s nothing wrong with the premise, but the execution needed work. Hopefully it can pick up steam in a hurry.

Christopher Allen