2.22.2012

2.22.12 Reviews

The Massive #0.2 (Dark Horse): I know, I know, it’s really Dark Horse Presents #9, but when all I’m really interested in is the second installment of what is basically a zero issue split into three origin story segments, I’m going to go ahead and call it The Massive #0.2 okay? First, quickly, the rest: Paul Pope adds some frivolity to a lunar mission from 1969, the Lobster Johnson story was dark and gripping, I enjoyed the striking visuals of the slightly steampunky pirate maybe-kid-friendly female protagonist adventure of Amala’s Blade, and it’s always good to see more Richard Corben and Caitlin Kiernan. But, you know me. I’m here for Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson’s The Massive, and it’s another incredibly strong installment. This time we learn about Magendra’s origin and how he comes to know Callum Israel, who we met in The Massive #0.1. Donaldson’s work has simply never looked better, especially when Dave Stewart is coloring those moonlit water scenes. I’m going to go ahead and lay claim to the critical notion that Channel Zero (1997), DMZ (2005), and The Massive (2012) not only mark three distinct periods in Wood’s writing career, but that they also form a loose spiritual “trilogy” of sorts in the way they handle sense of self within the context of different social settings. Simplified, if Channel Zero was about a girl reacting to a city, and DMZ broadened the scope to become about a boy and his fractured country, then The Massive looks to zoom even further out to be about a trio of figures and their entire world. It’s a worthy successor to DMZ, a cautionary tale global in scope regarding the destructive parasitic relationship our civilization seems intent of perpetuating with our host planet. If you wander up and down the aisles at the typical LCS, you can point to most books and say this title is like blah, or that title is like blah meets blah, but you can’t really do that with The Massive. Which means it’s a unique artistic vision, a wholly original concept brimming with authorial intent, a well researched factually rich endeavor that provides proof of the fruits of a year that seems to be witnessing a (re)burgeoning creator-owned paradigm. Also, for some reason I kind of want M.I.A. to create some hybrid world music rap beat soundtrack to this, maybe it’s just because one of her songs came on as I was driving to the LCS today. Grade A.

Prophet #22 (Image): “Sci-Fi Conan in Space.” That’s all you really need to know about this title if you want to pitch it to a friend, it takes a world-weary adventurer like Conan and drops him into a sprawling field of imagination that plays like old-school Science Fiction from the 1950’s. John Prophet is wandering the wastelands of a diagrammatic landscape, encountering life forms from many different cultures eking out their existence. The caravan sequence introduces the great diversity present in a world that feels used, lived in, and past its prime, as if we’re just coming in on the tail end of things. It really challenges the reader to keep up and is an effective storytelling approach. I’ve got to say that Prophet, under the hand of Brandon Graham, is one of the best examples of sheer world building in recent memory. It moves quickly from set to set at a brisk pace, as the era of decompression seems to be closing behind us. Simon Roy’s figures are washed in predominantly Earth tones, but they get the occasional infusion of ambers and purples that seem to glow with dim dangerous life. And, The Biomech!!! That’s my term, “biomech,” but the instant you see this second double page spread, it takes your breath away with sheer ingenuity. In Roy’s pencils, I see some Richard Corben, some Geoff Darrow, European flair with American sensibility that feels like a perfect match to this story. I’ll say that I didn’t care for the back-up (though I appreciate the idea of including one), but the issue does end on a terrific cliffhanger that promises a huge brawl next issue. Grade A.

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