Of late, there’s been a plethora of genre comics, specifically sci-fi comics, being published in everyone’s favourite pop culture industry. We’ve highlighted many of them here in this column including Saga, Federal Bureau of Physics (once called Collider), Trillium, and Black Science among others.
But it’s not like sci-fi and spec fiction just hit mainstream comics yesterday. No, they been around for along, long time. And today, you get to revisit one of the best of the genre in the perfect format to read the entirety of the series.
It’s a book planetary in size and Planetary in name!
Written by: Warren Ellis
Illustrated by: John Cassaday and others
Published by: DC Comics
With a first issue premiering in the spring of 1999 (and previews the year before), Planetary consisted of a group of three individuals: Elijah Snow, Jakita Wagner and The Drummer, all with different abilities, who billed themselves as “Archaeologists of the impossible.” The group, and its extensive array of mechanical innovations, was well funded by the enigmatic “Fourth Man” – a plot thread and character that would blow readers minds (well, at least this reader) midway through the series of 27 issues.
The raison d’etra of the Planetary group was ripped from conspiracy theory, speculative fiction, science and mathematics. Tasked with uncovering the secret history of the world, Snow, Wagner and The Drummer would jump across time and dimensions investigating strange phenomena, monsters and ghosts. Under acclaimed British writer, Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Red, Global Frequency), the series was an investigative look into the comic book superhero in all his/her guises. Here, you’d find slightly skewed versions of Tarzan, Godzilla, Doc Savage as well as Superman, Wonder Woman, the Fantastic Four and Thor. No “superhero” character was out-of-bounds for the multiverse-jumping protagonists.
Published by Wildstorm, which was founded by artist Jim Lee, a company later purchased by DC Comics, Planetary originally ran until 2001 when it went on hiatus for a number of years due to illness on the part of Ellis and other commitments from fan favourite artist, John Cassaday (Astonishing X-Men, Captain America, Uncanny Avengers).
Although readers were left in a lurch, Planetary was never far from mind. Trade paperback collections of the series were released, as were Absolute hardcover editions, now difficult to find. It was only a few years ago that the series actually had a proper send-off with a “final” issue. This new Planetary Omnibus hardcover publication collects issues 1-27 as well as the Planetary/Batman, Planetary/JLA and Planetary/Authority single-issue stories.
Planetary is, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating comic book stories you’ll ever read. Sure, this 864-page omnibus will be a bit on the costly side (approximately $75 depending upon where you find it), if you’re a fan of Grant Morrison, Alan Moore or Philip K. Dick, Planetary will take you, literally and figuratively, to places you’ve never been before.
Before you do that, however, make the run to your local comic book shop and pick up Planetary Omnibus. The “Fourth Man” (and this writer) approves!
Every Wednesday, JP makes the after-work run to his local downtown comic book shop. Comics arrive on Wednesdays you see and JP, fearful that the latest issue will sell out, rushes out to purchase his copy. This regular, weekly column will highlight a particularly interesting release, written in short order, of course, because JP has to get his – before someone else does!