Monday, July 29, 2013

365 Comics...208-210: The Massive #10-12 (2013)

Back in my teens in the 1990's -- probaby the only time I bought more comics per month than I do now -- I had this penchant for sidelining certain comics, namely Vertigo (and Vertigo-like) books.  What I mean by "sidelining" is I would amass a few months' worth of issues instead of reading them in the same week I bought them. Animal Man, The Invisibles, House of Secrets, the Dreaming, Hellboy... just a few of the books that would collect beside the bed for months before I read them.  It was like trade waiting but without actually waiting for the trade.

This habit wound up happening with many of the... intelligent (for lack of a better term) books I've read over the years: 100 Bullets, Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina among others.  Today I have four books which amass before I consume: The Unwritten (which I fell 15 issues behind on so I've dropped it for now), The Sixth Gun (which I did talk about in this capacity a while back, but I did read Sons of the Gun the day they came out), MIND MGMT which I only let stockpile 2 or 3 issues because they're a little too dense to read too much in one sit, and, finally, yes, The Massive, for which I've now fallen 5 issues back.

I can't really say what it is about these books that makes me do this other than they're just denser and/or more involving reads than their more action-centric genre fare.  I guess, like say watching a documentary or foreign drama versus a comedy or a blockbuster, you kind of don't know what you're in for from issue to issue but you do know you'll be asked to invest a little something extra to the experience, sometimes a lot more.  It's not that I dislike these experiences, quite the opposite, but just sometimes it just seems better to have these experiences in a concentrated dose, almost like the investment doesn't necessarily multiply with the more issues you read.

In some rare cases, it actually means I am not interested in the book and upon catching up promptly drop the title.  The Massive seemed to be teetering that way, as the growing pile seemed to be becoming insurmountable, and the desire catch up ebbing as I began to forget what I enjoyed about it.

Unfortunately episodes 8 -10, each with a different fill in artist drawing a stand-alone tale presented as part of the "Polaris" trilogy, didn't do a lot to draw me back in. Issue 8 (Polaris part 1: Breaker) finds Captain and Ninth Wave founder Callum Israel facing dissent among the ranks of his ship, the Kapital, as more and more of his team wish to head to what's left of their homelands and engage in whatever dispute--or war-- is occuring.  At the same time the mysteriously missing Ninth Wave ship, the Massive, remains no closer to being found while Israel's health deteriorates.  Gary Erskine fills in on art and where I've really liked his work in the past (check the bins for "Hypersonic" from Dark Horse circa... 1999 maybe) I'm not too psyched by it here.  It seems too loose and oversimplified compared to how I recall his work.  Not a bad tale from Brian Wood but feels ancillary (but then much of the series can feel that way).

Issue 11 on the otherhand Ts a real winner if only because it deals with sharks and we're building towards shark week next week.  Sharks are great, not just as agents of fear but in general they're vital to the planetary ecosystem and, as Wood put it "For 450,000,000 years, the ocean's been its domain, and it's developed and evolved un challenged... How heartbreaking that the softest, most fragile, most inexperienced of Earth's predators has brought the shark to the brink."  Heartbreaking indeed.  Though a bit of a digression in one sense, again the Kapital is on the phantom trail of the Massive with deadly shark-like results. Guest artist Declan Shalvey was born to draw sharks.  They look fierce and impressive and haggard and lovely.  A great issue that may have saved the book for my buy pile.

Issue 12 deals primarily with Callum Israels dwindling health and ship resources, as well as his dwindling hope for finding the Massive.  It gets pretty bleak and heavy.  Danijel Zezelj delivers a bit of a more arid, open aesthetic than we're used to in the series but damn if it isnt effective, especially in the desolate arctic ice.  We're back on-topic with The Massive but it seems that the titular Macguffin is threatening to remain just that, which isn't all that appealing.  I like world bidding, particularly in alternate realities, but it needs a little more progress from it's initial conceit, esp. after a year.

I just realized as I placed each issue down before me that the Covers (by the great John Paul Leon) connect as a tryptic.  Cool...I'II have to find it as a single image to put with this post.

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