Friday, May 17, 2013
Comic Review: The Massive - Black Pacific
I’m torn. On the one hand, I really dig the 70s environmental/apocalyptic vibe of this comic, with its retro-art and sprawling Lion Uris (without the racism) vibe. On the other hand, the pacing seems to be somewhere just behind that of a snail. And there’s a hint at something that I don’t like at all, that feels extremely weird and wrong in a book of this type. This is only the first volume, however, of what I assume (and hope) is a limited series with a planned direction and known ending.
The plot is pretty simple. The world has fallen apart due to series of natural and manmade disasters. A group of environmental activists have survived, and decided their mission isn’t over, and that this new world needs them. However, their primary ship, The Massive, has gone missing, and they’re on a quest to find it, following a dwindling trail of breadcrumbs. That’s it. Like Lost, it takes on complexity and depth by use of frequent, revelatory flashbacks that develop the overall plot and the characters involved. By the end of the volume, you’ve got a pretty good idea of the motivations behind two core members of the crew, Callum Israel and Mag Nagendra. But you also have an enigma in Mary, the mysterious black woman who does her own thing and knows stuff. This prompts me to ask, what exactly is it with comics and mysterious black women? Almost immediately, she reminded me of Agent 355 from Y: The Last Man, which made me think of Michone from The Walking Dead. What’s the deal, comic industry? Are you trying to say something? Or, am I just reading too much into some coincidence? It’s with Mary that the most fertile seeds of my discontent are sown. If Brian Wood has the plans for her I think he does, I feel like calling a preemptive “Bulls#!+” right now. But, I’ll wait and make sure. She could be responsible for a genre change I am not OK with.
While I think there’s potential here for something really cool, I don’t feel like the first volume is strong enough. Maybe more needed to happen, or some kind of dramatic reveal was needed. But no. It just kind of ends. If I were a smarter guy, I probably would not read further, but I probably will. The back end of the trade does feature some introductory stories, which actually kind of cement my trepidation with where this series is likely headed, which is not where I want to see it go. But though there are a few genuinely intriguing bits, it’s all kind of blah. Actually, that makes it feel even more like a lot of those 70s movies with a message, that have a lot going for them, but come off as somewhat hollow and a bit boring.
The Massive: Black Pacific
Author: Brian Wood
Artists: Kristian Donaldson, etc.
Publisher: Dark Horse Books