I’m a big Brian Wood fan. DMZ was a phenomenal series, and Northlanders was epic. So when I heard that his next non-supes venture was about dystopian/post-apocalyptic/environmental crusaders, I was VERY excited:
What always impresses me about Wood’s work is that it seems so very real, plausible in actuality. DMZ? Not that far-fetched. Northlanders? I don’t doubt it was like that.
Reading The Massive, I felt the actual fear of wondering what my own role would be after that sort of catastrophic enviromental event. When I can actually picture myself in a situation, it means I’ve been fully immersed, that the writer has me in their world. (Same thing with movies and books, I don’t think I’m the only one that feels that).
After ‘the Crash’ which seems to be the term for all of the earthquakes, waves, tsunamis, etc. as well as the socio-political fallout, the Earth is a totally different place, and we meet the Ninth Wave, an environmental group that makes Greenpeace look like pussies. (pardon my French).
They operate from a ship, The Kapital (yes, perhaps a little nod to Karl Marx, I like it. Minor detail but cool nonetheless.) roaming the oceans looking for The Massive which was their sister ship, they haven’t seen in months. There’s more of their crew/group/families on board, but things keep getting in their way of searching out the ship.
I haven’t even got started on the characters yet, who are all individuals, easy to discern, drawn well, and fleshed out by Wood. Callum is their leader, a former mercenary (Blackwater style) who gave up on the life after a major changing experience. Mag is his unspoken Security Chief, a former Tamil Tiger and also ex-merc. Mary is a mysterious woman who’s part of the team, and as the book goes on, we start to wonder more about her. Ryan is an American, university student who’s in way over her head. There’s more, but these were the main focus of the book.
Flashbacks can be awful if done poorly, but Wood and crew make great use of them, and are careful to let you know where/when they are showing you, and there’s very few flashbacks that don’t give us something useful. Even the artwork has a muted tone that differs enough from the present scenes that you know it’s the past.
All in all, this is an engrossing story, and there’s enough left unclear that you want to know more, but not so unclear that you get frustrated and give up. That’s a very fine line, and good job to Wood knowing how to tread it. I like not knowing everything; it’s no fun reading a book where you are told everything by the all-knowing editorial voice/internal monologue, and the character is in the dark. This isn’t that.
So another great modern work by Wood, start of something I can’t wait to get more of; Vol. 2, where are you? Library, don’t let me down!