Comics for the week of 2/20/08:
Invincible #48 (Image)
Umbrella Academy #6 (of 6) (Dark Horse)
This is a between-week (between paychecks), and so I will review these comics in the next issue of this blog. For this issue I thought I would begin sharing some of the titles that are my favorite, and that I pull out of my comic boxes and read through again, from time to time. The first title I want to share is Planetary, published by Wildstorm Comics, a DC Comics imprint.
Planetary was created by writer Warren Ellis and artist John Cassaday. It began publication in 1999, and the story wrapped up with issue #26, cover date December 2006. There was a two year hiatus from 2001 to 2003 because of illnes on the part of Ellis, and the schedule of Cassaday.
There was a preview story published in Gen13#33 and C-23 #6 (both titles carried the same story). This preview story was collected with the first six issues of Planetary in the title's first trade paperback.
The first issue begins with Jakita Wagner entering a diner in the middle of nowhere to recruit an old man who wears a white suit, by the name of Elijah Snow. She works for an organization called Planetary. The organization is run by a mysterious man called only "The Fourth Man". Her other partner is called The Drummer. He always carries a pair of drumsticks that he taps on anything within reach. He has the ability to sense any electronic information flow, including broadcast signals, computers, or any other electronic device. Jakita seems to be invulnerable and can move at super speed. It turns out that Elijah Snow had a power linked to his name, heat extraction.
Planetary the organization styles itself as "mystery archaelogists" who "excavate" the secret history of the world. Eventually we find out the purpose for this "excavation".
Throughout the series we meet a number of characters who are homages to various characters from popular culture throughout the decades. We become familiar with a group of people who share the same birthday, January 1, 1900. Because of their birth at the first moments of the new year, these people have unique abilities which they use to influence society in the background.
Issue #6 introduces the main villains of Planetary. Called simply "The Four", they resemble another famous quartet in comics. they have a similar purpose as Planetary, but to a more sinister end. Subsequent issues flesh out their back story, as well as that of the Planetary team.
Issue #26 contains the penultimate conflict between Planetary and The Four, and while this issue does not wrap up every single plot thread introduced in the series, elements from earlier stories play a part in this final issue.
Warren Ellis has written a script to issue #27, which will be an epilogue issue. he has said that John Cassaday is drawing it right now, but I have not found anything online saying when this issue will be published. It might be later this year or early next year.
The first issue of Planetary I read was issue #19, titled Planetary: Mystery In Space. It reminded me of the cover of the DVD 2001: A Space Odyssey. It involved Planetary finding an alien spaceship traveling thorugh our solar system, which also draws the attention of The Four.
The first new issue I bought was issue #20, titled Rendezvous, which was the conclusion to the story begun in issue #19.
I was hooked. Eventually I got all of the back issues, some in individual issues, and the rest in trade paperback.
Here are the trade paperback collections of Planetary:
Planetary Book 1: All Over the Workd and Other Stories
Planetary Book 2: The Fourth Man
Planetary Book 3: Leaving the 20th Century. This trade collects issue #'s 13-18. I have yet to see a collection of issue #'s 19-26.
Planetary: Crossing Worlds collects the following one shot issues:
Planetary/The Authority: Ruling The World
Planetary/Batman: Night On Earth
Planetary/JLA: Terra Occulta
DC Comics has published a special edition of Planetary: Absolute Planetary. It contains the first twelve issues of Planetary, as well as the script for issue #1.
If you are looking for something completely different in comics, as Monty Python used to say, then try Planetary. It's original, it's different, and it has a depth that goes beyond the 22 pages of a comic book. That makes it a title that you can reread many times and never get tired of it, and enjoy it as much the last time you read it as you did the first time you read it.
In fact, I've talked about it so much I think I'm going to have to dig it out and re-read it for myself again.
The titles on my pull list for the week of 2/27/08 will be:
Action Comics #862 (DC)
Justice Society of America #13 (DC)
Legion of Super-Heroes #39 (DC)
On my next blog I will review the comics for the weeks of February 20 and 27.
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