The fear of environmental disaster is very real these days, as the panic grows who is to blame for the demise of our planet? This question is difficult to answer, but in Brian Wood’s latest comic The Massive: Ninth Wave, things are thankfully a little simpler. Ninth Wave is a prequel follow-up to Wood’s 2012 comic The Massive. While the characters from that comic return, the plot is completely different, allowing new readers to jump onboard with issue #1.
Ninth Wave starts with a quote, “The number-one domestic terrorist threat is... ecoterrorism.”, effectively setting the tone for the book, along with a muted color palette by Jordie Bellaire. The opening sequence shows the characters in black suits, pulling a heist in Berlin. Through some fast paced wordless panels the action is painted out in crisp bold lines. It isn’t until the action cuts to leading man Callum Israel that we get some true exposition. Israel is in discussion with Bors Bergsen, a chemical manufacturer, simply describing to him what his team is about to do to his business. The heist going down in Berlin will block a crucial pipeline, backing up the entire city, and filling judges, lawyers, and businessmen’s home faucets with black sludge that Bergsen’s factories normally pump into local waterways. Bergsen discredits this to some type of eco-vandalism, but Israel assures him that come morning, his time doing business in Germany will be over. The reason for this attack on Bergsen and his partners is visibility; Israel’s organization, Ninth Wave, wants to reveal to the public the horrendous effects of companies like Bergsen’s on the environment. Israel and his team don’t want money, or anything else from these big chemical companies, they want to dismantle their entire system and what they are doing to the Earth.
Ninth Wave’s debut issue is a brisk crime story with much larger implications. Sure, the idea of eco-terrorists that fight against criminal tycoons hurting the environment might seem wacky on paper, but Wood proves that with the proper execution and writing that this story can succeed. Rather than turn out to be some type of Captain Planet meets Ocean’s Eleven, this comic seems to be rooted more in reality than fiction. Obviously Wood has a message with this one, and it’s easy to be heavy-handed with pro environmental stories. Instead of the reverence for nature that say Miyazaki takes in his stories, Wood displays a hard hitting cast of environmentalists that are cool and composed. They strike fast and hard, and have no mercy for those that wish to wreak havoc on the world that may already be too far gone to save. It’s the story of a team of scientists and specialists who instead of sitting in a lab figuring out how to stop climate change they go out and destroy the lives of the people who are causing it.
Near the beginning of Bergsen and Israel’s encounter Bergsen holds up a card for Norsk-Oil saying “This is what I represent, this is who represents me”, he places it on the table with many other business cards for similar companies. Mary, Israel’s associate, simply replies, “we look at those names and logos, and all we see are targets.” The members of Ninth Wave demonstrate early on that they aren’t messing around, finally fed up with watching the environment deteriorate at the hands of greedy businessmen. Wood takes the anger of seeing animals soaked in oil, or rain forests being decimated, and projects it through these characters. The idea of a team of scientists that can and will fight for the environment by any means necessary is pretty badass. Ninth Wave are the defenders of earth, but not from any supernatural or alien enemy, but from mankind.
The premise is excellent, while not being overly political. Garry Brown’s artwork reminds me a lot of Sean Murphy’s scraggly yet clean artwork, giving each character a sharp look to them. His art definitely helps the book keep a crisp, stark appearance for the no doubt heavy subject material to come. Wood has a great team behind this comic, and hopefully can keep up the pace that this debut issue has set. This issue honestly felt like a movie trailer, showing the team pulling the heist while their captain says some badass lines to the villain. In a way it’s a great set up for the rest of the series, but I wish that a little more had transpired. But hey, they’ve have to save something for the rest of the series I suppose. So far so good, Ninth Wave is definitely shaping up to be a book to look out for in 2016.
The Massive: Ninth Wave #1 Writer: Brian Wood Artist: Garry Brown Colorist: Jordie Bellaire Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/09/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital