The Massive #22 [Advance Review]
The Massive #22 (Dark Horse): Danijel Zezelj is probably my personal favorite Brian Wood collaborator (cue apologies to Nathan Fox, Ryan Kelly, Carlos D'Anda, Fiona Staples, et al), when you catalogue his work on “The Shield Maidens” in Northlanders, his depiction of Decade Later in DMZ, and the heart-breaking reveal he did right here in The Massive #12, so I was thrilled to see him tackle this full arc of The Massive, entitled “Sahara,” especially one focusing on enigmatic Mary. Zezelj’s figures are just dredged in ink, which adds a lot of emotional weight to anything he touches, and The Massive deals with some heavy concepts, so it’s a great pairing. Brian Wood builds a story around the looming crisis that is access to clean water. It’s something that Wood’s environmentally-minded interviews have revealed concern for over the years. In the future, something like taking a shower for more than 5 regulated minutes is a luxury we might all be taking for granted, one that our kids could soon be faced with. The Massive #22 touches on those concerns, concerns over the type of world our children will inherit, and Wood is able to weave this into his post-apocalyptic broken-world story. In short, water is the new oil. Mary gets involved in an effort to secure a huge convoy trekking from the Arabian Peninsula thousands of kilometers across North Africa, to whatever’s waiting at the end of the line in Morocco. Her experience as a child soldier even makes her something of an “officer” in this hired-out local security detail and, pet peeve notwithstanding (“clips” vs. “magazines”), it’s a perfect way to demonstrate commerce being upended post-Crash, with temp occupations and migratory patterns all in flux. Zezelj’s use of inset panels is particularly noteworthy because of the way it draws attention to emotional beats, and I love stuff like the big full page shot of the shanty town staging area. It’s the kind of original art I’d want to own from Zezelj, one of the few remaining items on my comic book bucket list. Mary’s journey is full of rich moments, like the cultural rivalry where the guys in the cab of the hauler are so busy trying to put down a woman that they don’t even notice they were probably just threatened by Mary. The mystery of Mary, central to the grand narrative in The Massive, is also furthered with her Great Depression era recollection, but trust me when I say that’s not even the biggest reveal the issue has to offer! I’ll say no more until we can discuss this development in the review for next issue. Grade A+.