Nothing makes me more excited for a comic than watching that comic’s world become more and more clearly defined as I read. The world coalesces with each emotive face, sweeping vista, and every well-written line. All of these are things The Massive possesses in spades.
Parts two and three of The Massive’s first book, “Landfall” more than lived up to what I was expecting and hoping for after I read The Massive #1 at the beginning of August. The tone of the writing and artwork is handled with the type of gravitas one would hope for in a post-apocalyptic/”post-crash”/post-world story, and The Kapital’s search for their sister ship The Massive is extremely interesting and deeply compelling.
As The Kapital continues its search-and-rescue mission, we see more and more development in the characters, specifically the three main characters: Mag, Mary, and Captain Callum Israel. We learn more of Mag’s background and ties to the Tamil militia and more about Mary’s relationship with Callum. Flashbacks continue to be the predominant method of delivering background information, and the comic switches back and forth from the present to the past more frequently, but with ease. It’s a method we’ve seen before, but the flashbacks here are used with such purpose that it’s clear Brian Wood knows exactly what he’s doing. And it works beautifully.
With Mary disappeared into the fog, Callum and Mag are left to defend The Kapital from pirates, giving Mag opportunity to showcase his skills in combat as well as show The Kapital’s defensive capabilities. Interspersed in the action are flashbacks, mostly pertaining to Callum’s history showing his capacity for leadership as well as his experiences in dealing with violence peacefully. After defending The Kapital the crew discovers a beacon from The Massive, which only leads to more questions as they temporarily retreat to their safe haven located at an abandoned military base in Unalaska (which I thought was a fictional place, but I googled it). The crew survived their brush with pirates and meet up with Mary, but the mystery of The Massive only deepens.
Landfall introduces us to some of the other crew members and shows us the conflicts between the different groups aboard The Kapital. The discussion of the use of weapons in their mission comes up often, and while some wish to use violence, Callum continues to make a case for pacifist behaviors. Only in issue #3 does he bend to Mag’s use of firearms to protect The Kapital and her crew. It brings up the issue of a pacifists place in a world fraught with violence and the moralities associated with killing and self-defence.
The art by Kristian Donaldson continues to impress me. Sweeping landscapes seem to be his strongest point, though he approaches action and close ups with a certain deftness, creating dynamic flow in characters movements and adding emotion to their faces. Little things like a character holding their hands in prayer, Callum throwing back his glasses to look through a rifle-scope, and the way Mag leans into his spear as he attacks are details that add a lot realism and emotion to this comic and really push it to the top in my mind.
Dave Stewart’s colors remain understated and slightly muted, the darker tones reflecting the harsh world around the characters. Flashes of color punctuate scenes: Mag’s scarf, Mary’s coat, and even Callum’s signature tinted aviators. Colors also separate the present from flashbacks in a fascinating way. Some flashbacks are drastically different in color, the flashbacks to Hong Kong bathing everything in shades of orange. Other flashbacks, I can only describe as being even more muted and monochromatic, one color like blue or green dominating the scene.
The issues continue to have appendix sections, utilizing them to flesh out the world of The Massive and give greater detail to the history of Callum Israel’s Ninth Wave organization, and even laying out timelines of the characters pre and post-crash. Sections like these often get a bit wordy, and some comic readers may be slightly turned off to this, but personally I find these sections to be truly fascinating as they add a kind of depth that the rest of the comic might not be able to.
All in all, I find The Massive’s “Landfall” to be a fantastic start to the series. The mystery of The Massive is incredibly compelling and the slowly revealing backstories add not only to the characters themselves but also to the narrative as a whole. In addition, The Massive’s has beautiful lines and colors. If you haven’t started reading it already, I definitely recommend you give The Massive a shot. I’m really looking forward to the story The Massive will tell, as well as the release of issue #4 next month. This is definitely a series I’ll be with for the long haul.