Review – Planetary

Publisher/s: Wildstorm

Genre: Superhero, adventure, mystery, sci-fi

Author/s: Warren Ellis

Artist/s: John Cassaday

Format: Maxi Series

No. of Issues: 27

Vintage: April 1999 – October 2009

The Plot: After one of their own is killed in the line of duty, a group of super-powered adventurers/archaeologists known as Planetary, recruit a man named Elijah Snow in order to fill the spot of ‘the third man’.  Funded by the mysterious ‘Fourth Man’, the Planetary organization take it upon themselves to uncover the secret history of the world and in doing so uncover a plot that runs far deeper than anyone had previously thought.

The Good? Much indeed, once again Warren Ellis has managed to create an original and interesting take on the superhero genre in the form of super-powered archaeologists who travel the world investigating strange phenomena ranging from monsters and ghosts to robots and aliens.  What I really like about this series is that the story plays out like a ’50s pulp magazine in that each issue (in a way) emulates old-school science fiction/mystery adventures in a Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow fashion.  Initially, the first few issues basically consist of a series of self-contained stories but as you reach later issues an overall plot begins to unravel which makes for one hell of a fun read.  The Planetary field team consists of Jakita Wagner – super strong and fast and near invulnerable, The Drummer – able to detect and manipulate information streams ranging from computers to alien technology and finally Elijah Snow – able to freeze anything around him by extracting any and all heat from an object, person or environment.

The Bad? Nothing comes to mind, Warren Ellis’ writing is as brilliant as always and Planetary is punctuated by the beautiful artwork of John Cassaday.  What could be seen as an annoyance to fans is that originally the series started in 1999, but as Warren Ellis fell ill, the series was put on hiatus between 2001 and 2003.  Finally in 2009 the series was concluded with the much-anticipated issue #27.  Thankfully I never experienced the wait due to only reading the series earlier this month.

To Conclude: A highly enjoyable read and recommended to all comic-book fans out there looking for a series that not only focuses on the heroes themselves, but the world around them and what a strange world it is as one issue is invariably more bizarre than the last (especially as the central plot develops).  If you’re able to find the series, do yourself a favour and make it your next purchase – you won’t be disappointed.

Grade: A

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