Brian Wood is everywhere in comics these days. He’s doing the all female cast X-men book, writing a new take on Star Wars, even doing his creator owned book at Image with Mara. Somehow he still manages to find time to create a post-flooded Earth in Dark Horse’s The Massive. What started out phenomenal has somewhat lulled in the previous arc. Lucky number 13 seeks to put the Kapital back on a course for globe spanning adventure.
Issue thirteen begins a three-part story arc called Americana. The crew of the 9th Wave ship, the Kapital, is on the trail of a rogue crew member in a stolen nuclear submarine headed straight for New York City. Up to this point we’ve seen many different parts of the world after the crash, but this is the first time the reader sees just how bad the U.S. was hit. The story jumps non-linearly between recounting the destruction of American cities and present day crew chasing the sub. Such jumps can typically feel a bit jarring but each is differentiated from the other with changes to the overall color pallets, which make them feel like recounts of events on any CSI episode on television. Overall thirteen is a relatively quiet issue that puts the pieces into place as a typical first act of a story would. We get some more of Israel’s brooding, Mag pulls out all the stops trying to uncover the location of the missing submarine and in doing so riles up what’s left of the American armed forces.
The art job of Garry Brown and Jordie Bellaire is solid in this issue. In fact it shines in two areas, one being scale and the other color shift. All the landscapes of the catastrophic American cities are unbalanced in a good way. They don’t look like cities that have gone through a change; instead they look like cities that were reclaimed by the sea. Dealing with flashbacks that periodically pop up in an issue can be a challenge in not making readers nauseated. Jordie answers that problem by sticking to complimentary colors between the sequences, shifting between the cool blue tones of present day to warm yellows used in flashbacks. What should have been a disaster is turned into a strength for the book.
Overall The Massive #13 tries to be the calm before the storm. It holds back a bit too much and gets hindered by pacing problems. A calamity that is only made more puzzling to readers by telling us what happened in the midwest and on the west coast. If a story centers on New York, the only details necessary to our understanding should be limited to the east. Fans of Brian Wood’s work know he can sometimes take his sweet time getting to the pay off of his stories and will find it easy to tough out this issue. The first chapter of Americana is one of those set up issues that you’ll understand better once you read the third act in August.
6.5 out of 10 Decent
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