Have you ever held your breath the entire time reading a comic book? There’s something about seeing the movements of characters without having a clue as to what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. That’s what occurs in the first few pages of Brian Wood’s “The Massive Ninth Wave: Marine Conservationist Direct Action Force.”
As a reader you follow along, allowing Wood and artist Gary Brown to be a co-conspirator, but to what? The Ninth Wave seems to be a force fighting for the things conglomerations either don’t care about or take for granted that it will always be there. As if the air they breathe is special because they have money. Money it seems has everything and nothing to do with the motivations of these characters, particularly when it comes to this narrative. In this first issue greed and the dependence on people’s apathy puts this young and wily team in their element, on the edge of being caught.
And then there’s Callum Israel who heads the Ninth Wave environmental protection group. On first meeting him, we see a man who is playing for high stakes.
In this prequel to Wood’s and Brown’s series “The Massive,” Ninth Wave focuses on a time before the dark days, when they were beginning to be a force to be reckoned with and the world was a much more straight forward place. There is a slim foretelling of the future, but it’s not so much about the comic as human nature. In Piers Anthony’s “Wielding a Red Sword,” the incarnation of war asks the incarnation of time to help him get supplies to refugees in a war torn area. The incarnation of time, a man embodied with all the time at his disposal is not able to outwit greed. Greed, the reader learns is timeless and can never be beaten. Though it could possibly be maintained.
And still, not knowing the baggage of these characters and their future history is what makes prequels so intriguing. Here you get to go on a journey with characters as if they are brand new. Throwing the reader right in the middle of the action of someone’s past, seeing the mistakes that might have led them to a post-apocalyptic world is a playground for the writer. As it stands in this first issue, you don’t know who’s going to survive.
What you will know is that as characters go, the environment, those who seek to exploit it, those who try to protect it will play a part in this limited series run. This isn’t the type of drama that proselytizes its views, rather it is a fast paced, high tension work that uses the world as it is. That can be the best kind of story where you don’t have to figure out who the alien is, or if someone is going to find out the hero’s secret identity. As a reader you can allow the story to take its course.
There’s no need to go off-world or delve deeply into mythology or folklore. You don’t always need Thor in order to tell a good story. Here Wood and Brown are relying on the way people screw up the world and those who feel a responsibility to save it.