Archeologist of the Unknown
The other day I finished one of the best comic book series I’ve ever read. Hands down. It’s called Planetary, and it’s something that I believe transcends the genre, much like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns before it. In all seriousness, you need to seek this out.
Written by Warren Ellis and drawn by John Cassaday, Planetary follows the adventures of Elijah Snow, Jakita Wagner, and The Drummer as they search out for Earth’s secrets, which include everything from giant Godzilla-type monsters to ghosts. Each member of the “Planetary Organization” has different powers, with Snow being able to generate intense cold (and is seemingly immortal), Wagner having the usual superstrength, and The Drummer being able to “talk” to machines and see the inner workings of not only them, but the world around him. As they are searching for Earth’s secrets, they continually come into conflict with “The Four”, a team of four super-powered individuals (sound familiar?) who are stealing Earth’s secrets to prevent humanity from reaching its full potential.
But that synopsis isn’t doing the series justice. Each issue is completely different from the other, and Ellis and Cassaday really show how modern fiction influences the series, touching on everything from John Woo action films to the grim and gritty comics of the 80’s that changed the industry, for good and for bad. Ellis even touches on pulp action heroes and classic literary characters like Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, creating a world that seemingly contains every genre of fiction that authors in our world have created.
One of the great things about Planetary is the fact that while it contains an overarching story, each issue has its own beginning, middle, and ending, something that is unfortunately missing from many modern comic books, where we typically get 6 part events and mega-crossovers. This means that readers can pick up any issue and instantly get an idea and “feel” for the series. While the entire series is only 27 issues long, you can pick up the trades or the two “Absolute” editions of the series, and engross yourself in this ingenious world that Warren Ellis and John Cassaday have created.