Advance Review: 'The Massive' #23: Water is the New Oil

A comic review article by: Justin Giampaoli

In the previous issue of The Massive, Brian Wood dropped the narrative bomb that Mary was pregnant! We sort of assume Cal is the father and that it's not some type of Immaculate Conception (which might be an erroneous leap considering a series sort of built on the Holy Trinity “Rule of Three,” and her name is “Mary,” after all), but either way it could really have an impact on where the series goes.

I've been saying publicly for a while now that Cal might not live to see the end of the series, so this all really begs the question as to Ninth Wave's legacy and who'll be groomed for leadership. The possibilities of what it all means are vast, especially as Brian Wood infuses more ethereal sci-fi into the post-apocalyptic as time goes by.

 

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As the series gets closer and closer to its planned ending at #30, the frequency and volume of information being revealed seems to be escalating. There's yet another big reveal in this issue, involving a 600-year flashback to the Adirondacks in New York State. Without giving away the specifics of that, one interesting take away is the idea of a global ecosystem that once flourished before man unbalanced it.

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Jordie Bellaire deserves some special recognition for her work on this arc. Her colors are very crisp over Danijel Zezelj's art (if you made me pick my favorite art collaborator for Wood, I'd consider him for sure), which I think is tough to do when he slathers on so much rich ink. She sure deserves an Eisner Award. Bellaire composes color to great effect in this issue, the sand storm generated by the convoy has a washed out dull sensation, like cheesecloth over a camera lens, it's just so good. Then she gives us the glow of moon light, with that hint of blue to the gray, or night time scenes that are pitch black, except for the isolated sparkle of headlights illuminating the desert. Suddenly, the light is so bright that it almost looks black and white.

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It's visually beautiful, but also punches up the dire situation they're in at that moment. Mary and the convoy endure security checks, fending off bandits, all with smartly written lines for Mary that tend to appeal to man's sense of greed vs. talking her way out of jams with logic, using the greed as a recurring thematic device on both large and small scales.

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I said in the last issue that the shorthand idea for this arc was "water is the new oil," and Wood says as much here by establishing 350,000 Euro as the going rate for one tanker full, nailing the shift in resource scarcity and top commodities. The Massive has never been more exciting.

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