writer: Warren Ellis
artist: John Cassaday
Planetary is a book with a lot going against it:
It's ass-dragging release schedule makes The Ultimates
look like a bi-monthly, the semi-episodic storytelling hits
a lot of the pitfalls that a series of entirely standalone
issues wouldn't suffer from, and when the plot lags, it's
it's a damn fine book! Sure, it's breathed life into the medium!
Sure, most of the issues manage a single issue plotline while
somehow brilliantly building on the main arc of the story!
This just isn't one of them. In fact, this is the first issue
to end with those awful words no book with deadline problems
should ever use: "to be continued
kicks-off with the discovery of a giant alien space
passing near Earth. Planetary spots it and sends
some mute extra-terrestrial Angels (who kinda look like lanky
homunculi with wire-sculpture butterfly wings) they just happen
to have sitting around to investigate.
that sounds weird
well, it is.
has to spend a little while getting us acclimated to the strange
notion of collaborating with alien angels, but it works, in
the end. What doesn't pan out is the conversation immediately
after they shoot their alien friends into the cosmos, wherein
they discuss the nature of the multiverse as being built on
information, which is two dimensional like a snowflake, which
is the model of the multiverse as we know it and grains of
something about the hard drives in Hong
Kong... hell, it's freakin' bizarre. Sure, it adds up, in
the grand scheme of things, but it's a cumbersome notion to
drop in the middle of the book; especially when the rest of
the dialogue is sparse and/or conversational. It's kind of
like reading one of those weird Grant Morrison rants from
Doom Patrol or The Invisibles, except that Morrison
usually had the good sense to make the entire issue about
the rant. Here, it feels like Ellis is jamming important exposition
into some dead air. (Hey, they need to talk about something
while those Angels rocket into space, right?)
the striking similarity this new plot bears to Ellis' final
arc on The Authority (giant alien space
comes to Earth). Now, I'm not accusing Ellis of rehashing,
but, when you consider that we're supposedly nearing the end
of the series and consider the implications of the latter
half of the issue
well, I won't go into detail, but
it's a little too similar for comfort. Planetary and
The Authority ARE very different books about very different
teams, but they've still gone down the same paths more often
than you might expect. Let's just hope Ellis does his usual
job of surprising the crap out of us and turns the all-too-familiar
setup into something we wouldn't expect in a million years.
Well, two years, minimum.
on the other hand, live up to everything we've come to expect
from the Planetary team: Big, glorious panels, powerful compositions,
and gorgeous, vibrant colors (nice to see that the cover lists
colorist "Laura DePuy Martin", since the previous
issue's "Miss Laura J Martin" credit confused the
hell out of me). Cassaday's work is striking and evocative,
as always, and the subtle details make your mouth water. Heck,
they even manage a rather amusing Apollo moon mission visual
reference just before they cram those aliens into their flying
tin can. Of course, the best visuals occur in the latter half
of the book, but, I REALLY can't go into detail without giving
it all away
Just think grand, huge, massive bigness.
this is an issue without an ending and, thus, it's hard to
judge its merits. However, the wait between issues will be
so much pain
oh, man, that next issue
better be amazing.
we'll probably look back on these days of waiting, years from
now, collected TPBs in hand, and laugh out loud
I don't believe that either.