It’s 2012, post-apocalyptic s–t is everywhere, and most of it isn’t very good (*cough*Revolution*hack*). All post-apocalyptic entertainment seem to hammer on the same tired beats, and I’m getting more than a bit tired of the whole genre, and yet I’m really digging Brian Wood’s new post-apocalyptic eco-adventure The Massive.
Why? Because The Massive is the very rare post-apocalyptic story to do something different. Here are six reasons this underappreciated comic should be on your pull-list even if you dead sick of end of the world stories…
The Apocalypse is Beyond Comprehension, Yet Believable
Most post-apocalyptic tales chalk up the end of civilization to something extremely simple, yet ultimately kind of silly and unbelievable (zombies, the lights going out). Basically, the apocalypse is nice and tidy and easy to understand, yet at the same time, not particularly scary because you know the scenario being described would likely never happen in the real world.
In The Massive, the world has just gone through “The Crash” — a series of wars, environmental disasters and economic meltdowns that all came down at once. Are they all connected? Maybe, maybe not. Despite the hugeness of The Crash, it still feels more believable than say, a zombie apocalypse, because Brian Wood has drawn on real-life situations and events. The Crash is made up of stuff actually happening right now, just dialled up a notch. If the world really does end, this is how it will happen — it won’t be tidy and easy to understand, it will be a hurricane of s–t coming from all directions.
Not Everyone Instantly Becomes A Psychotic Murder Machine
This is a favorite post-apocalyptic trope — as soon as society takes a hit, naturally we all immediately hit the streets and start hunting each other for sport and eating babies!
Which is of course ridiculous. The lights going out, or a plague going around wouldn’t immediately flip the “cannibalism time!” switch in most sane people’s brains. Most of the people in the world of The Massive are still decent people who seem to have no interest in eating each other’s faces. In fact, the main character Callum Israel is a pacifist — an ideal he continues to cling to even after the end of the world.
People Carry On With Their Lives and Passions
Speaking of ideals, in addition to pacifism, Callum and the rest of the series’ main characters are environmentalists. Most of the action in The Massive takes place on The Kapital, a ship they use for environmental protests and direct-action conservationist missions. Even after the fall of society the characters of The Massive remain devoted to their cause, because of course they would — the end of the world doesn’t mean you stop loving the whales!
People Actually Had Interesting Lives Pre-Apocalypse
This is one of the tropes that drives me the craziest — in most post-apocalyptic stories, the glimpses we get of people’s lives before the big fall are generally incredibly simplistic and uninteresting. Usually a character’s pre-apocalypse life can be summed up in three to five words — “I was a cop”, “I was rich”, “I did some bad things.” That or pre-apocalypse life is depicted as being nothing but fields of flowers, loving embraces and laughing children in soft focus.
The characters of The Massive had complex, messy lives even before s–t went crazy. Callum for instance used to work for a shadowy private military company before becoming an environmentalist. The back of each issue has several pages of supplementary material laying the backstories of all the characters and how their lives have intersected. The Crash is just another event in these interesting people’s lives, not what defines them.
The Big Secret Isn’t Constantly Being Dangled In Front Of You
A lot of post-apocalyptic stories are obsessed with the big, bad secret thing that caused the apocalypse in the first place. Nobody can stop talking about it, the main character is on a quest to find it and so on.
The Massive by comparison has hinted there might be some big secret behind The Crash, but then again there may not be. It certainly isn’t any of the character’s top priority.
There’s Refreshingly Little Misery Wallowing
The characters of The Massive are serious people facing real challenges. The book’s not particularly funny or light-hearted. That said, it doesn’t wallow in constant misery either. The world’s f–ked up, but hey, when hasn’t it been? The main characters, and mankind in general, rolls with the punches and moves on in The Massive. Just like it probably would in real life.
So there you go — only four issues of The Massive have come out so far, so finding them all shouldn’t be too hard. Get on board and get excited about the end of the world again.