Planetary is, correctly, celebrated as one of the greatest comic book series of all time. Technically part of the DC’s Wildstorm universe, the book really stood on its own with only passing references to Jenny Sparks and The Authority.
And it is, indeed, pure genius.
This post is a SPOILER-FREE tribute to Planetary. It’s just designed to tease you enough to make you want to go read it.
It’s basically Warren Ellis’ trippy sci fi celebration of all things comic book-y. It pays tributes to all the major tropes, incorporates most of the major “big two” heroes, and for the most part focused on one per issue:
Mutated animal movies!
Swamp Thing and all the creepy DCs–and the guys who created them (Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, etc.).
The Fantastic Four!
Kung Fu movies!
Even James Bond!
Seriously, if it’s been in a comic, it was examined in Planetary.
Oh, and it wouldn’t nearly be as wonderful as it is without the art by John Cassaday. Beautiful.
The hero, Mr. Snow, is an old superhero who starts out just wanting to be left alone but is gradually sucked into a world of government conspiracy, fascinating wonders, and constant doublecrosses.
He’s basically got the powers of Iceman, but he uses them in a much more…Effective way.
Warren Ellis goes through each of the comic stories you’ve read dozens of times and tweaks them, one by one, to turn them into something much more modern, sinister, and, frankly, interesting. He writes everyone else’s comics better than they did.
It’s full of action. It’s fantastic.
And of course, it’s not without Ellis’ sense of humor, and his overall romantic view of the world.
Despite the darkness and cynicism, Ellis has love for his characters, and it comes through as genuine and authentic rather than sentimental or trite.