With some of the more dense series I read, I sometimes like to leave two or three issues unread before reading.  So it’s often that I find myself with an unintentional backlog of The Massive.  The way the series is designed, the three issue chapters help create the perfect buffer for each arc.  I started reading the series issue my issue, but I found that I was beginning to re-read issues for the much needed context that one might lose after a couple months away from a series. And with this most recent arc in the series completed, I found myself scrounging through my loose issues to finish up the chapter.

 The Story: Out for revenge after the bombing of The Kapital, Callum Israel enters what’s left of the Eastern Bloc with Mag on a search for the source of all their current woes: Arkady Sirilov. Formerly a PMC contractor through Blackbell, Arkady has been dogging The Kapital for a long time to get back at Callum for their past differences.  Arkady’s interference in the crews events have driven Callum to the breaking point and we see him beginning to put aside his usual motives of non-violence. As if his ailing health and the stress from his ship being bombed weren’t enough, dissent has been festering in the crew for some time, and Mag begins to doubt Callum’s ability to lead.

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I was particularly intrigued at the beginning of this latest chapter.  Callum’s shift in moral stance seemed perfect in light of all the terrible things that have happened to him and his crew over the past few arcs. And after reading through the last few chapters again recently, I kind of identified with his turn to violence as an easy solution.  And while I enjoyed this chapter’s test of Callum’s moral standard, it didn’t end how I thought it would have. If anything, this arc steers the story back to the original storyline of searching for The Massive.  That doesn’t make this chapter any worse, in fact it makes it better as Callum is tested and new leads for The Massive appear.

Brian Wood continues doing fabulous work with this series, developing the world and the characters in equal measure along with the story.  Much like his series DMZ, character development is the main focus of the series and their stories as well as what they experiences are the biggest drive for me to continue reading.  The various chapters in the series tend to shift focus from character to character, and while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Callum’s test of will, I look forward to seeing more from the rest of the crew that has faded to the background in the last couple handful of issues.

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The Art: The art by Garry Brown continues to impress. His lines making characters and scenes darker with the help of color work from the ever-present Jordie Bellaire as our focus is shifted to the foreboding remnants of Europe.  Each chapter in the story of The Massive has delivered large tonal shifts as needed from the steel corridors of the bustling Moksha Station to the cold icy wastes of Alaska.  But in light of the attack on his ship, Callum’s new goal brings him not only to a dark place locationally but also emotionally as he struggles with his health and morals.  And the artwork conveys all this beautifully.

Continuing the series’ motif of bouncing between the past and present, we are shown Callum and Arkady’s past at Blackbell and their fundamental differences as soldiers and as people. Between the two storylines, there are a lot of furrowed brows and hard looks as the characters experience one of the series darker moments. Compared to the bright and idyllic way the chapter starts in issue #19, the series grows darker and darker, the characters moving through the darkened jails and cathedrals of the world that once was.  There are a lot of stunning moments in this arc and the art as well as the wonderful cover art by J.P. Leon, one of the artists on DMZ, convey the turmoil and confusion that this series embodies for the series.

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As always, I’m amazed at how good this series continues to be and would recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of Wood’s previous work on DMZ and Northlanders.  Even with the world coming apart at the scenes, the focus of this series has always been the characters and their experiences.  And with so many other comics I’m reading focused on heavy convoluted story arcs, I really appreciate a comic so willing to put the spotlight on people and their lives.  If you’re not already reading this series, you definitely should be. By this time it’s obligatory. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it until the series gives me reason not to. But from the looks of it, it won’t.

The Massive can be purchased at your Local Comic Shop or online at Dark Horse’s website.

About The Author

Long time fan of comic books, video games, and movies. Zander is often no where to be found because he's marathoning movies and tv shows or playing video games till all hours of the night as most disillusioned twenty-somethings are wont to do. Polar opposites are the game: action/comedies and dramas, FPS games and turn-based strategy, science fiction and historical fiction. Why pick one thing when there are so many good things?

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