While I was initially a bit tempted to come into this review with a less-than-stellar report of The Massive's second issue, upon a little bit of fermenting I had a change of heart. While I initially characterized the pacing in this issue a bit slow, I realized that, well, it needed to be.
What The Massive is, at its core, is a book that revolves around its environment, in both a broad and literal sense. The setting is key, here, and it needs to be done right. Without establishing the world it takes place in properly, the narrative comes apart at the seams; Brian Wood does a lovely job in establishing what exactly's going on in both active (characters and documents explaining) and passive (what the viewer can surmise) ways.
I have to really applaud him on being able to pull out another DMZ-esque world so soon after that series ended. It doesn't hurt that Kristian Donaldson's art evokes this kind of duality in the way it separates a flashback from the current, "present" storyline. Like how the memory dulls over time, the art does as well. Present scenes are sharper, with heavier lines and more solid colors. The memories are overlaid with an orange tint, saying "hey, this is something you should pay attention to, but not be confused about."
In other books, I may have complained about this "spelling out," but in this case it serves to bring cohesion to a split and otherwise-complicated narrative. Other art highlights include small hints that the present day may have elements of the past: seeing sailboats in Hong Kong gives me the impression we may see some awesome old/new tech fusions as the world gets thrown into disarray.
Gold star on a solid second issue that makes me want to continue on to the third.
The Massive #2
Dark Horse Comics
The Verdict: Five lifeboats out of five for continuing to create a rich world without being overbearing. Exposition happens in a number of ways, not just directly: readers will be rewarded for looking deeper.