The Massive #1: Seeking a Boat After the End of the World

DMZ and X-Men writer Brian Wood examines the role of environmentalists in a world that's already been lost.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

The Massive #1

A couple of days ago, I went out late at night by myself to watch Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Yes, I'm aware of the mild irony involved in going up to a ticket taker and saying "one for 'Seeking a Friend,'" but it's the kind of movie that feels like you should see it alone, so you can leave the theater after midnight when the world is mostly dead and you can really feel that impact of the end of days. The experience of Mr. and Mrs. America is markedly different from those of all the ships at sea – especially when the Armageddon is not an approaching asteroid, but a year long series of catastrophic natural disasters, as we see in Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson's new Dark Horse Comics book The Massive #1.

Collectively referred to as The Crash, these events have devastated civiilzation, drowned Hong Kong in ten stories of water (for example) and has left Captain Callum Israel of the conservationist ship Kapital – part of a significant environmentalist movement called Ninth Wave – lost and in search of their missing sister ship, The Massive, lost somewhere near Macau. Months later, they're still searching for it up in the Bering Sea, and are forced to deal with Russian pirates instead.

The art from Donaldson is really fantastic, and it's the reason you're going to buy this book after you pick it up to flip through it – which you should. Strikingly clean in the face of a dirty world, starkly drawn and very real characters, highly detailed and impressively rendered nautical action, and very well-chosen colors from Dave Stewart really set a particular kind of somber, yet hard-bitten mood for a lonesome post-Crash world.

Wood sets up an interesting dynamic here, complete with some text-heavy supplemental material in the back of the issue. Aside from the historical, sepia-bathed documentation of the unfolding events of The Crash, we've also got a small band of characters aboard the Kapital. There's Cal, an ex-mercenary who turned the Ninth Wave away from radical environmentalism towars active conservation, and who's trying to run a pacifist ship in the face of a world that is "not always going to afford us the luxury of a personal moral code," in the words of Mary, the lone holdover from the original protest group. She's the one who is willing to kill pirates to protect the Kapital. Then there's Mag Nagendra, Cal's first mate and former subordinate, making an interesting triumverate at the command level.

They're in charge of a small crew on a ship with limited resources, sailing waters that have gone from charted to uncharted very recently. In its maiden voyage, The Massive is shaping up to be a very tense ongoing story, full of desolation, mystery and danger. There are no zombies or anything supernatural involved at all, but given the tone and post-civilization setting, one could make an argument for calling this The Sailing Dead.