Review: The Massive #29

This feels like as good a place as any to put a pin in The Massive. The whole team has weathered what remains of the Crash (as far as we know), except for one key member of the team, whose leaving protects them all. This is where it all comes together, and there’s still one issue left to tell us were we may be going when this series is gone. In this month’s installment, we find out what the Crash has been like for those living in the space stations and shuttles in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Spoiler alert: it has not gone well. Wood dodges the Y: The Last Man comparison by making the astronauts set dressing more than an active participant in the main story, which is good, but he still continues to flavor the rest of the world with the people you wouldn’t necessarily expect to check in with in the Crash. Meanwhile, a framework has been put in place to literally weather the storm and live through to the new world that’s coming, but answers are scant as to who will make it that far.

The Massive #29This is another issue that almost entirely leaves Cal out of the action--not that I have a problem with that, given his state currently, but it’s proved a real bait-and-switch on Wood’s part as to who the hero of this story is, and that’s admirable, that he’s pulling it off this well so late in the game. When Cal’s cancer was revealed a while back, it felt just this side of gimmicky; it’s the hero who’s struggling to save the world while he can’t even save himself, given his troubled history. At worst, it’s a tired trope, but at it’s best (and, I would argue, here), it’s another character in the story who mirrors the Way Things Are. This is a comic that started out on a very basic level (“We have to find the Massive.”) and became something much more apocryphal, the story of the Way Things Were. Some of the characters represent that world, the world that is being left behind and cleansed, and some represent the terrifying new world that’s coming. It’s not terrifying because it’s impossible to survive, it’s terrifying because it’s not the same. This brand of world-building is the kind of thing that The Massive has truly excelled at for the last 29 issues.

Meanwhile, Garry Brown and Jordie Bellaire are absolutely killing it every month on this book. The Massive would be an entertaining parable in lesser hands, but with Brown’s sketchy linework that makes every rock and person look like they were carved out of the Earth, and Bellaire’s colors tying the whole thing together into one unified whole, it’s a damn masterpiece. Brown manages to capture the pathos of a stranded crew watching the Crash from miles above, but he also manages to capture the fury of an Earth scorned and forgotten. The elemental horror in this book is top-notch, but again, it’s all just flavor on this character study of the last group of survivors, the ones who’ll manage to get through the Crash the only way they know how: together.

If you’ve been sleeping on this book, there’s no remedy but to go back and grab the trades. It’s the best work that Wood has done since DMZ, and it’s the best, and oddly most hopeful, book about the end of the world you may ever read.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Brian Wood Artist: Garry Brown Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 11/26/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital