Monday, August 8, 2011

Comics I Missed Until They Were Cancelled: Planetary

I have to admit that I don't get around to reading every comic book out there. There are a number of them that I never catch until I pick up a used trade paperback somewhere, only to find that I've missed something pretty good that's not around anymore.

Such is the case with Planetary. A couple of weeks ago I read the first issue and was suddenly hooked on the series. What is it? It's sort of a tale of three heroes who live in an amalgam world of all our comic books but with a slightly evil twist to them.

For instance, the villains of the story are a thinly-masked version of the Fantastic Four. Imagine a world where the FF were actually villains out to destroy humanity and rule the multiverse. Imagine a world where the FF killed Superman as a baby, Green Lantern just when he was starting out, and Wonder Woman right after she arrived on our shores. Pretty cool, eh?

Guess who?
Along the way of this trip, we visit a monster island off Japan where a familiar giant green lizard has died. We run into a Doc Savage type who saved the world from an evil JLA, find out where Thor's hammer actually goes when it's a stick, face off against the team of Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, meet Tarzan, and even visit Galactus' ship where its master has laid dead for centuries. What would happen if General Ross had been able to grab the Hulk and really put him away, allowing him to slowly starve to death? All of these things are not explicitly mentioned, but slight variations are put on each. Just enough that they couldn't be sued, but it's impossible not to understand what you're reading. Long before anything is mentioned, you know what's going on.

To me, that's what made this comic so amazing. It was a chance to see a familiar world of DC and Marvel with the twist that the heroes could die, make mistakes, really fail, and then have to live with the consequences of it. They were fallible, and Planetary was there to clean up the mess they'd left. Never every issue was a home run, but most were well worth the reading.

And along the way, there is the mystery of Elijah Snow (the main character) and what his background holds. As it comes to light, it adds another dimension to what you've been reading.

No spoilers here. I want you to enjoy every issue if you decide to read it. This title lasted only 27 issues, with 3 specials along the way. Though it wasn't supposed to take place in any known comic universe, they met up with Batman, the JLA and the Authority through various circumstances and twists.

"Doc Savage" and "The Shadow" take on the "JLA"
In the end, this series really blew me away. I'd heard of it over the years, but never picked up any issues. Now I've finished it as a set and have to say I loved it and I'll miss it. Still, I'm glad it went out when it did rather than continue on well after the main story had died and it was scrounging around for anything to keep it running. I hope Irredeemable does the same soon.

Because of the incredibly sporadic publishing schedule (the comic went two years between issues at one point), I probably wouldn't have stuck with it if I'd tried a monthly run. Now, as a whole, the book is a guilty pleasure of mine. This is the rare occasion when picking up a book after cancellation was the best idea.

If you're looking for something slightly different from the normal comics out there, Planetary definitely fits the bill.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I'm a trade-waiter, so everything I read is usually near its end...but it provides an easy time for me to get caught up. Incredible Hercules is the best example...by the time I caught on to the book, there were probably 5-6 trades available and the series was wrapping up, preparing for Chaos War.

I didn't pick up on Johns' original JSA run from the 90's until well after it was cancelled and relaunched (fortunately, his run continued after the relaunch)...but that also allowed for me to catch up on some nerdly DC goodness.

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