Here’s where I’m at with The Massive, Brian Wood’s post-Crash epic: I read the first trade a week and a half ago, and then made it my business to catch up and read the rest of it so I could start reviewing it this week with issue 26. It’s a phenomenal slow-burner story about what happens to the people who get left behind when the planet decides it’s done with us, and if you don’t think that is the tightest shit ever, then get out of my face. In this issue, as in the previous, more things are happening to the planet that seem to be continuing the events of the Crash. Planes are falling out of the sky, cats and dogs are living together—mass hysteria. Wood spends a lot of this issue wrapping up some of the longer-running character threads that were seeded all the way back in the first trade, and damn, is he sticking the landing. Each issue of “Ragnarok” so far has been involved with the Crash making things worse, and one or more of the central questions of the series (Who is Mary? Where is the Massive? What is the Crash? etc) being at least directly addressed, if not outright answered. The genius is that Wood can answer a question at the end of an issue and all it does is raise more questions for the reader.
The Massive has been a series with a distinct creative vision, even as the artists swap around from Kristin Donaldson to Garry Brown to Declan Shalvey and all back around again. It hasn’t ever felt like a series that didn’t know what direction it wanted to go in, and part of that is credit due to colorists Dave Stewart and Jordie Bellaire. It seems fitting that the series is going out being drawn by Garry Brown, since I’m fairly sure he has the most cumulative issues under his belt. His version of the characters on the Kapital feel like the definitive versions of them. He’s managed to capture both Cal’s cancer and everyone’s hair growth, all the minutiae, in perfect detail.
I’m going to address what was certainly the elephant in the room for me when I started reading the massive: Brian Wood’s reputation amongst industry professionals, especially women. I’m not in the business of critiquing peoples’ personal lives, so at some level, I have to divorce myself from the actions or personalities of the creators and focus on the art. God knows it’s the only way I can go on reading Frank Miller comics. And in our constantly connected world, when things like this start to happen, we take more notice. We don’t let things slide under the radar as much as they used to be able to. I did the research before starting this book and was directed to an article in which Tess Fowler stated she had long forgiven Brian for his personal actions, but that the conversation about the culture of exclusion women in comics are fighting is one that needs to happen. She’s 100% right.
Taking those facts as you might, I’m buying this book. Whether or not Wood did those things or did not, there’s a lot of other people working on this book whose work I admire, and I want them to have my money. I’ve never met Brian Wood, but I love the way he tells stories, especially this one. So if you love a well-told story that has far-reaching statements about where our planet is at this moment in time, this is a book to catch up on, and catch up quick. If you have moral reservations about it, no one will fault you for it. This is a grey area, and it’s a rough sea to navigate.
Either way, here’s to another great issue of The Massive and hopefully several more to come.
NOTE: The original wording of this article miscast the accusations against Brian Wood, and the wording has been changed to more accurately reflect Fowler's words.
Writer: Brian Wood Artist: Garry Brown Colorist: Jordie Bellaire Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 8/27/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital