This month's The Massive read like an issue of Warren Ellis' great series Global Frequency: self-contained, poignant and great for character development. Seeking water and safe haven, members of the Kapital ship are travelling to rare freshwater well in the Arctic.
Brian Wood uses one of my favourite techniques in comics and transfers the reader into a relatively low-key member of Ninth Wave, allowing us to feel her fear, uncertainty and lack of commitment to the cause. It's as if, in the early stages of this book, he asks us "Are you in, or are you out?", beckoning us to fully commit to his world.
And I, for one, am prepared to take that plunge.
Wood's willingness to create a world that suits his needs is admirable, because a world that's been ravaged by an ecological disaster can't be one that was completely caught unaware. Revealing that preparations for these kind of disasters have been made before (even if it wasn't one on this scale) allows us to say "Alright, humankind isn't that dumb", and pray that there's hope for rebuilding. That feeling is imperative to a "broken world" scenario; the reader has to believe that the protagonists are capable of finding peace, and are willing to do anything to get it.
I'd also like to point out the last couple pages of every issue, which shift from mission briefings to blog posts, like this month. They're completely independent of the story and serve as a bit of back-up, but they're needed. Wood is allowing us to answer our own questions and become invested in the setting like he did in his previous series, DMZ. During that story, he consistently broke off into one-shot issues that took place away from the plot; the purpose of this was to show us what life was like for other people, and made us attached to not only the characters, but the bigger picture of what they were influencing. Backup features like this spread that exposition in every book instead of dedicated issues, and I have to give Brian Wood props for keeping up the tradition.
The Massive #5
Dark Horse Comics
The Verdict: If you've never picked up *The Massive* before, this is the issue to do it. You'll be able to answer that "Are you in?" question by the end of the book, and hopefully be able to find the back issues before the first rade comes out. If you do, welcome aboard: we're happy to have you with us.