Wednesday, 3 July 2013

So I Read Planetary

A 250 Word (or less) Review of Planetary
By Warren Ellis and John Cassaday, Wildstorm Productions

Planetary is a comic about comics. In it, the Planetary organization, made of the three person team of Elijah Snow, Jakita Wagner, and The Drummer, travel the world to uncover the incredible and to document and preserve it. They race against The Four, an unscrupulous group of superhumans, who seek to horde the incredible for themselves. It’s a very, very good comic. But that only scratches the surface of this work. Planetary is also a veritable doctoral thesis on genre fiction and comics. Nearly every issue of the comic is simultaneously celebrating and discussing some important work of comics and fiction, from Japanese Monster movies to Hong Kong action films to Steranko’s Nick Fury to Thatcher era British Comics to Pulp Adventure comics. In a sense, Planetary is itself a work of cultural archaeology that displays a rich seam of landmark genre fiction and an examination of how they all fit together. If you know enough to kind of understand the commentary it’s deeply fascinating. But the close reading doesn’t end there: Ellis is also responding to the bankruptcy crisis comics were contending with in the 90s and on certain contributing aspects of Marvel Comics. Also, I’m convinced that the three members of Planetary are meant to stand in for different aspects of Ellis: Ellis the romantic lover of old comics, Ellis the contemporary mainstream comics writer, and Ellis the mad-brained futurist and dreamer. It’s the kind of book that begs for annotation. It is absolutely a must read comic.

Word count: 250

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