Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Planetary - Time For A Read And Review

Planetary - 1- 27

Describing themselves as "Archaeologists of the Impossible", Planetary is an organization intent on discovering the world's secret history. Funded by the mysterious Fourth Man, the field team consists of three superhuman beings: Jakit Wagner (strong, fast and almost invulnerable); The Drummer (can detect and manipulate information streams, such as computers and other electronics); and new recruit Elijah Snow (can create intense cold and extract heat). Planetary member Ambrose Chase (can create a "selective physics-distortion field") was also a member of the field team until apparently killed.
The field team travel the world investigating strange phenomena - including monsters, aliens and other superhumans, unusual relics and suppressed military secrets - for both the betterment of mankind and out of sheer curiosity. The group is sporadically opposed by a rival group called the Four, a parallel Fantastic Four of metahumans (Dr. Randall Dowling; Kim Süskind; William Leather and Jacob Greene) intent on using the secrets of the world for personal gain.

Now for the next week or so I will be reading this entire series again, doing a review on the story every three issues or so. I seem to remember that many pop cultural icons like Doc Savage are renamed and repurposed leaving what made the character so great intact but also allowing them to be used in unique ways by Ellis.

The stories could get trippy and metaphysically cryptic but everything made sense at the end - sort of. I admired the logic of his story - the rules that Ellis followed to create a universe where this kind of strangeness is par for the course.

The art by John Cassaday remains especially strong throughout the series and in the story - Batman/Planetary  - Night on Earth. In this book the Planetary team confront Batmen from throughout the Dark Knight's long history. Cassaday is so good that he can draw the various Batmen in the myriad of costumes and styles associated with the hero.

I always thought this would make a good series for STARZ when their Spartacus franchise runs out of Spartacus stories to tell. Planetary would be a great anti-superhero story. In two years they could produce the 27 issues and base their scripts on the comic series. This might lead in the future to Y, The Last Man being done the way it was first told in the comics.

Planetary is like Watchman for the Wildstorm Universe. Warren Ellis has a great skill for creating fresh characters from archetypes. We know the real world influences but the stories go in many unpredictable directions. It's about fighting threats that have no logic and are powerful enough to destroy all reality. This is done with planning, with subterfuge and trickery and with luck by the heroes of Planetary.


Nepean.Dude said...

One vote totally in support of talking about PLANETARY. Just wanted to note that Warren Ellis had nothing to do with KICK ASS that I know of. His work on NEXTWAVE: AGENTS OF HATE and THE AUTHORITY, though, was excellent. Check them out if you have not yet.

Gootie said...

I love this series. One of my all time favorite comics ever. I find myself re-reading a couple times a year and it never fails to astound and inspire me. There are so many neat references to other characters making it the modern cousin to Alan Moore's League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this one.