Chris is ill with whatever cold or flu his daughter passed to his unprepared immune system, so there is no Six Sentence Comic Reviews this week. Sorry to the folk who come for those, but I assume he’ll be back as soon as he is no longer Code: Sicky.
In lieu of that though I can offer you something in the comic area. The one comic series I was hopelessly (even when it was on hiatus for a couple of years) devoted to was Warren Ellis’ brilliant PLANETARY. In my run up to the release of the last Malazan volume (THE CRIPPLED GOD), I needed something I had read before to use as a ramp up…So I’m re-reading the aforementioned series (in collected Trade Paperback form), so this post covers Volume #1 (Collected Issues #1-8).
Do you like FRINGE? LOST? X-FILES? THE LOST ROOM? All these mind-bending, mystery shows have one thing in common:
Warren Ellis’ PLANETARY did it first.
Funded discreetly by an unknown benefactor named simply “The Fourth Man”, Planetary is a globe-spanning organization run by 3 key members in the United States. It is a clandestine organization that are “archeologists of the impossible” and within pages of the first trade you see why. Members Jakita Wagner (unexplained super speed and strength), and The Drummer (first name “The” last name “Drummer” can locate and manipulate anything with an electronic signal) recruit cold, cranky, old Elijah Snow as their new Third member. Snow is a Century Baby, born in 1900 amongst a number of other people, each with extraordinary powers. The Century Baby thing is a theme that runs through a lot of Ellis’ DC/Wildstorm comics, including the amazing Jenny Sparks, British leader of The Authority (another comic by Ellis). Snow is whisked right away on his first mission with Planetary where they discover Axel Brass, an American adventurer who should not be alive. Also a Century Baby, Brass was a member of a group of secret scientists and adventurers who (at the tail end of World War II) created a quantum computer called the Snowflake, which showed the Multiverse. Proving that the earth is one of countless earths in countless realities in countless universes, all separated by a thin liquid layer known as the Bleed. The experiment that was The Snowflake went wrong though and our earth was subject to an invasion from the multiverse of superhumans intent on saving their world(s) from the destruction The Snowflake was going to wreak. Brass and his compatriots defend the Snowflake tooth and nail and everyone is killed except Brass who then chooses to stand guard over the still-active anomaly, to prevent other invasions...for the next 45 years.We find out that he learned how to heal his own body and mind over that time which kept him alive.
This was all within the first issue and to be honest this was an easy hook for me. We have action, intrigue, clandestine world organizations, secret societies, quantum science, alternate realities, superhumans and adventurers at the tail end of WWII. From there on out the series only gets stranger, crazier and even more enthralling! The next few issues deal with some very cool stuff, which I’d rather not ruin but I’ll give you some clues: Big Japanese Monsters, Hong Kong Ghosts, Quantum Ships, and even more about Brass and Co. and how they go to where they were when they built their machine.
I have always enjoyed this series, and when people ask me I always tell them that PLANETARY is the very best comic series I have ever read. Ever. I told Ellis that when I met him back in 2004. I also said that HE was the sole reason I started reading comics in the first place and he grinned at me and in his British accent said “I’m really sorry mate.” And we both chuckled.
If you have never heard of it,
order it online or go to your local book or comic store and find the first trade beg, borrow, and steal to get your grubby paws on it! Anyone who likes fantasy, history and sci-fi will love it I assure you. The second part of my endorsement comes from the fact that the series is 4 trades long and that’s it. It’s completed now and can be read without fear of having to collect numerous volumes ect. The third part of the endorsement is that John Cassaday’s art is ALWAYS amazing, every panel is so incredibly drawn and shaded that PLANETARY is simply a joy just to look at.
The great news is that this first trade merely scratches the surface of what is to come in the following three volumes. This journey has only just begun, so stay tuned for Part II, III and IV of my re-read reviews on this addictive comic series.