2.01.12 Reviews (Part 1)

Dark Horse Presents #8 (Dark Horse): It’s a little disconcerting that I essentially paid $7.99 for a single 8-page story, but when the results are as compelling as The Massive, I don’t mind one bit. Worth is largely determined by a consumer’s subjective perceived value, and I certainly feel that I got my $8 worth of enjoyment out of this first look into the world of The Massive. First off, Kristian Donaldson’s work simply has never looked better. Dave Stewart drenches it in this greenish-blue that perfectly captures the cold isolation of the set, and that first two-page splash of the rig tells you instantly what a grand scale this story is going to take on. For readers who might somehow be new to Brian Wood, the inclusion of the "rogue" Draupner Wave is a good clue as to the type of research that informs his work. He’s not just making fictional shit up, as fun as that can be for some writers, but rooting it in science and history in order to lend an air of authenticity and plausibility to the work, making it more powerful and accessible in the process. I’m surprised that so much information is being relayed so tight and crisp in just 8 pages here, another clue that Wood’s writing might be taking an important leap forward, something he partially credits his Dark Horse Editor Sierra Hahn for. It’s evident that this is immediately spooling up to be a dream team collaboration on all fronts, from Kristian’s best-in-class art, to Brian’s thought-provoking scripting, to pulse-pounding colors, distinct lettering, and what appears to be a very healthy relationship with editorial. I think this installment is important because we get an origin story of sorts for (one of?) the series protagonist(s) right before game-changing disaster strikes. So, say hello to Callum Israel. If The Massive boasts the sort of political dynamics and personal intrigue that DMZ had, and pairs it with the post-apocalyptic vibe of, say, Wasteland, then I must be in the right place, considering those are two of my favorite books in recent memory. This is certainly Grade A work. Of course, there were a bunch of other stories here. I read them all, but can’t say any of them hooked me. The BPRD story was solid, no surprise coming from Mignola, Arcudi, and Fegredo. It had an ominous and mournful tone, with very engaging dialogue, certainly what you’d expect from the franchise. I enjoyed it. Rich Johnston wrote some Miss Crabapple story or something, and I remember that only because I thought the art had a nice Tim Sale type energy. Other than that, nothing was terribly memorable or made any effort to hook me, mostly silly, boring, or clichéd genre work in varying percentages. I guess if I went into this holistic book blind and then discovered that I only enjoyed 2.5 out of 10 pieces, the overall grade wouldn’t very high. But, considering I entered for one story, which I was completely satisfied by, the grading scale really becomes a little moot in this unique circumstance. So, buy it for The Massive if nothing else. Buy The Massive when it becomes a regular ongoing series later this year. It won’t disappoint.


At 11:34 PM, Anonymous Jason Crowe said...

I also picked up DHP #8 for one story (Beasts of Burden), although I mistakenly assumed that an Andi Watson story was slated for this ish.

I did enjoy The Massive, and will be picking up the next few DHPs. This is mainly for Dorkin's strips (Eltingville!), but the Massive is a good sweetener.

Good review, Justin!

At 8:40 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Thanks for stopping by, JC!


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