I’m back for my second installment of COMICS YOU SHOULD BE READING! Last time I brought you Grant Morrison’s run on Animal Man, one of my personal favorites, and this time I’ll be bringing you something completely different. Planetary!
I intended originally for this to be done weekly, but I’ve been a bit swamped as of late, so this was a bit delayed. Hopefully I can get on a weekly schedule successfully, though.
Just like my last one, I break this into a WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW manner, and I answer all those questions about the series as such:
- WHO wrote this series, and who is providing the artwork
- WHAT is this book about. I’ll give a bit of a synopsis
- WHEN was this series published. If it’s finished I’ll list when it started and ended, if it’s ongoing I’ll tell how far along it currently is
- WHERE can I find this series. Sometimes the books aren’t readily available at any bookstore, so I’ll let you know if that’s the case
- WHY is this series worth reading? I’ll tell you why I think it’s great, and how it could be relevant to our readers tastes
- HOW much will this cost/How many volumes are there. I’ll break down the collected editions of the series and tell how much each volume costs. It’s always good to know what you might be getting into.
So now that we have that cleared up, let’s get started!
COMICS YOU SHOULD BE READING
Warren Ellis and John Cassaday
Planetary is a 27 issue puzzle. The series, for the most part, consists of single issue stories, which, until about issue 13, don’t seem to connect to each other in any big way. Once you read that halfway mark, though, you realize just what has been going on for the past 12 issues, and you realize that not only is this series extremely awesome for using just about every aspect of comic, science fiction, and mystery from popular culture (I’ll get back to that), but the story is extremely awesome, intricate, and incredibly thought out.
Back to “every aspect of comic, science fiction, and mystery…”. Warren Ellis uses this series to comment on the history of comics and the types of literature that surrounds them, We have everything from reference to popular DC characters (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern), to The Fantastic Four, to monster movies (Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, etc.), to even using Sherlock Holmes himself, and a character who appears to look quite a bit like Ellis’ character Spider Jerusalem, from Transmetropolitan. Yes. This series does include all of that, and does it come off as hokey? Not at all. Every piece of this puzzle is intricately built, and there is not a single piece that doesn’t fit perfectly in the series.
The series started being published by Wildstorm (one of DC’s imprints) back in April of 1998, but there was constant hiatus along the way, and issue 27 wasn’t released until October of 2009. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to wait like some people did?
Well, now that the series is complete you can go to any comic shop and find a copy of each volume, or you can do what I will frequently recommend, order from Amazon. I want to say look at bookstores, but I know that my closest bookstore only had volume one, and then I bought it, so now it doesn’t carry the series at all. Which is too bad.
Warren Ellis is one of the best, and most fun, writers in comics today, but sadly he isn’t as popular as a lot of writers that do mainstream comics. His sense of humor, and his deep knowledge of the comic, and literary mediums show brightly through every work he does, and they make them all fantastic reads.
When I first picked up Planetary, it was because I had a couple of people telling me “you need to read this”. I tend to listen to people when they say stuff like that, so I picked up volume one. From the second I started reading it I thought to myself “This was something that was created for me to read”, and I automatically ordered the rest of the series from Amazon.
It’s a beautiful book. The artwork is fantastic, and the story is intricately told. The best part about it, however, would without a doubt be all the comic and literary references that pop up in every chapter. I remember when reading through the series for the first time, thinking “Oh crap! That’s supposed to be like Green Lantern”, or “OH MY GOD! THEY’RE THE FANTASTIC FOUR!”. Moments like this are not sparse at all, and they are always gratifying.
In short, I guess to say why you should read this, I would simply say that if you love comics in any way, this is just something you need to treat yourself to.
GO Rating: 4.5/5
Vol. 1: All Over the World and Other Stories - $14.99
Vol. 2: The Fourth Man - $14.99
Vol. 3: Leaving the 20th Century - $14.99
Vol. 4: Spacetime Archaeology - (The hardcover of this volume has gone out of print, and is relatively expensive now, but the TPB will be available in December) $17.99 TPB
Also available are the two Absolute editions of the series, which collect the entire series in two oversized hardcovers for $100 each.