Planetary (comics)

Planetary (comics)


caption=The members of Planetary; from back to front, The Drummer, Jakita Wagner, Elijah Snow.
publisher=Wildstorm/DC Comics
writers=Warren Ellis
pencillers=John Cassady
colorists=Laura Martin
creators=Warren Ellis and John Cassaday

"Planetary" is an American comic book series created by Warren Ellis (writer) and John Cassaday (artist), published by the Wildstorm imprint of DC Comics. Planetary also refers to the group portrayed in the series.

"Planetary" was previewed in the September 1998 issues of "Gen¹³" (#33) and "C-23" (#6), and issue #1 was cover-dated April 1999. It was originally intended to be a 24-issue bi-monthly series. However due to illness of Mr. Ellis and other commitments by Mr. Cassaday, the series was put on hiatus between 2001 and 2003; it has since restarted and will conclude with issue #27.

Mr. Ellis confirmed, on his 'Bad Signal' mailing list, that Mr. Cassaday would finish the final issue in early 2008. As of late September of 2008, Mr. Ellis stated that the issue was about halfway finished.

Laura Martin has colored almost every issue of the series.

The premise

Planetary is an organization billing themselves as "Archaeologists of the Impossible", tracking down the world's secret history. Funded by the mysterious Fourth Man, who it is said could be anyone from Bill Gates to Adolf Hitler, the field team consists of three superhumans: Jakita Wagner, who is strong, fast and nearly invulnerable; The Drummer, who can detect and manipulate nearby information streams, most commonly used to manipulate computers and other electronics; the new recruit Elijah Snow, who can extract heat from nearby substances at will, freezing them; and the former third man Ambrose Chase, who has a "selective physics-distortion field".

The series is set in the Wildstorm Universe, along with other titles such as "Stormwatch", "The Authority", "DV8" and "Gen¹³". Snow was born on January 1, 1900, as was Jenny Sparks of the Authority, and the two know each other. "Planetary" rarely crosses over with other Wildstorm series, although references are made to characters in other series, such as Henry Bendix from "Stormwatch".

Planetary's field team travels the world investigating strange phenomena: monsters and other beings, unusual relics, other superhumans, and powerful secrets which certain individuals are trying to keep hidden from the rest of the world. Their purpose in doing this is partly curiosity, and partly to use what they learn for the betterment of mankind. There are, however, groups who oppose their goals, and the organization has a substantial history which is gradually revealed during the series.

The series

Mr. Ellis, the creator and writer, has always intended the focus of the book to be the genre of superhero comics, rather than the superheroes themselves. "I wanted to do something that actually went deeper into the sub-genre, exposed its roots and showed its branches."cite web| url = | title =PROFILE: Warren Ellis Interview (part one)| accessdate =2006-11-10 | author =Christopher Butcher| date =2000-10-31 |format =html | publisher ] One of the series' main hooks is that it portrays alternate versions of many well-known (and obscure) figures from popular culture. At various times we are shown versions, and in some instances multiple versions of major company characters such as John Constantine [Comic book reference | Writer =Warren Ellis | Artist =John Cassady | Story =To Be In England in the Summertime | Title =Planetary | Issue =7 | date = January 2000 | Publisher = DC Comics] , Superman, Captain Marvel [Comic book reference | Writer =Warren Ellis | Artist =John Cassady | Story =Strange Harbours | Title =Planetary | Issue =4 | date = July 1999 | Publisher = DC Comics] , Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Nick Fury, the Justice League, the Fantastic Four [Critics have noted that Ellis based the villains of the series on the Fantastic Four. They were first introduced in issue five. Comic book reference | Writer =Warren Ellis | Artist =John Cassady | Story =The Good Doctor | Title =Planetary | Issue =5 | date = September 1999 | Publisher = DC Comics] , and the Hulk. Mr. Ellis has also reached beyond the genre, noting it is "about the superhero sub-genre, and its antecedents", and as such has also created pastiche characters based upon Godzilla, Sherlock Holmes [Comic book reference | Writer =Warren Ellis | Artist =John Cassaday | Story =Century | Title =Planetary | Issue =13 | date = February 2001 | Publisher = DC Comics] , and Doc Savage [Comic book reference | Writer =Warren Ellis | Artist =John Cassaday | Story =The Good Doctor | Title =Planetary | Issue =5 | date = September 1999 | Publisher = DC Comics] . Ellis also references the modern League of Extraordinary Gentlemen [Comic book reference | Writer =Warren Ellis | Artist =John Cassaday | Story =Century | Title =Planetary | Issue =13 | date = February 2001 | Publisher = DC Comics] , Japanese monster movies [In issue 2, the Planetary group visit Island Zero, which is based on Monster Island, where various giant monsters lived in the later Godzilla movies. (Comic book reference | Writer =Warren Ellis | Artist =John Cassaday | Story =Island | Title =Planetary | Issue =2 | date = May 1999 | Publisher = DC Comics)] , 1950s horror/science fiction movies [Comic book reference | Writer =Warren Ellis | Artist =John Cassaday | Story =Cold World | Title =Planetary | Issue =11 | Date = 2000 | Publisher = DC Comics] , Hong Kong action movies [Comic book reference | Writer =Warren Ellis | Artist =John Cassaday | Story =Dead Gunfighters | Title =Planetary | Issue =3 | date = June 1999 | Publisher = DC Comics] and more. This provides a rich backdrop for the ongoing story, and is similar to Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton family.

Typically, the public domain characters such as Holmes appear as themselves, while those still under copyright appear in altered but recognizably similar form. Thus, in some regards "Planetary" is similar to Alan Moore's "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen".

The idea of the series is to create a concise world in which archetypes of superheroes, pulp fiction heroes, science fiction heroes, and characters from just about every possible mass media format, live in one large universe while the Planetary team investigates them and ties together the ends. As Warren Ellis wrote in his proposal for the comic series: " [W] hat if you had a hundred years of superhero history just slowly leaking out into this young and modern superhero world of the Wildstorm Universe? What if you could take everything old and make it new again?" [cite web| url = | title =Planetary Proposal | accessdate =2006-11-10 | last =Ellis | first =Warren | authorlink =Warren Ellis | coauthors = | date =written November 1997, posted to web in 2000 | format =html | work | archiveurl = | archivedate =2000-07-11 ]

The comic relies heavily on John Cassaday's distinctive art nouveau artwork, featuring a variety of styles of covers (with no consistent logo or layout) and interior art, often paying homage to the respective sources from which each issue's characters and concepts are drawn. Rich Kreiner has described Mr. Cassaday's artwork in "The Comics Journal" as being "close to the gold standard for fabulous realism in mainstream comics" [cite journal | last =Kreiner | first =Rich | year =2004 | month =February | title =Firing Line:Planetary/Batman | journal =The Comics Journal | volume =1 | issue =258 | pages =50–51 | id =ISSN|0194-7869] , and Cassaday's ability to interpret Ellis' scripts adds to the book's appeal, his command of the visual language helping drive the narrative.Fact|date=September 2007 The book is colored by Laura Martin, Tom Underhill noting her contribution as "every bit as compelling" as Cassaday's in his review for "The Comics Journal" [cite journal | last =Underhill | first =Tom | year =2006 | month =February | title =Warren, Just Admit It | journal =The Comics Journal | volume =1 | issue =274 | pages =62–64 | id =ISSN|0194-7869] . The mysteries Mr. Ellis sets up are what ultimately drive the book, as the characters' relationships, their histories, and the identity of the Fourth Man [Comic book reference | Writer =Warren Ellis | Artist =John Cassaday | Story =Memory Cloud | Title =Planetary | Issue =12 | date = January 2001 | Publisher = DC Comics] are gradually revealed.

Mr. Ellis has also drawn on scientific sources for inspiration within the series to add an aspect of verisimilitude to his revisions of classic superheroes. He introduced the concept of a Multiverse to the shared universe in which the characters appear, drawing upon the mathematical concept known as the Monster group for inspiration [cite web| url = | title = [Mar. 27th, 2005|02:56 am] | accessdate =2006-11-10 | author =Warren Ellis | authorlink =Warren Ellis | date =2005-03-27 | format =html | work =Warren Ellis' Live Journal ] . Hark describes the multiverse as "a theoretical snowflake existing in 196,833 dimensional space." [Comic book reference | Writer =Warren Ellis | Artist =John Cassaday | Title =Planetary | Issue =2 | Date = April, 1999 | Publisher = DC Comics ] , a reference to the visualization method used by some mathematicians when describing the Monster group [Mathematicians have described the concept as best visualized as a highly symmetrical shape, a snowflake for example, existing in 196,883-dimensional space. Each symmetry of the group would correspond to a rotation of the object in this space, and the number of possible rotations is approximately equal to the number of atoms in the earth. This fact is also referred to by Hark in issue one.]



*"Gen¹³" #33 and "C-23" #6 (preview - same story included in each issue)
*"Planetary" #1-27 (issue #27 is due sometime in 2008 and the script is finished and delivered according to Warren Ellis's blog [ [ PLANETARY #27] , Warren Ellis' blog entry] )


*"Planetary/The Authority: Ruling the World": Standalone story featuring the two Wildstorm teams in a plot tangentially related to an element in the first issue of "Planetary". Includes references to the stories of H. P. Lovecraft, and features Lovecraft himself as a character (in a very unflattering portrayal as a vehement racist.) Art by Phil Jimenez
*"": Standalone story featuring alternate renditions of Batman in what is otherwise a straightforward "Planetary" tale. This story features various versions and interpretations of Batman spanning the character's history, ranging from Bob Kane's original, to a version based on Adam West's portrayal in the 1960s TV series, to Frank Miller's Dark Knight. Art by John Cassaday
*"": Standalone Elseworlds story featuring an alternate version of the JLA - Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman - facing an alternate incarnation of Planetary that acts in much the same way the Four do in the regular Planetary series. Completely detached from the main "Planetary" storyline. Art by Jerry Ordway


*"All Over the World and Other Stories" (collects preview & #1-6; hardcover and softcover ISBN 1-56389-648-6)
*"The Fourth Man" (collects #7-12; hardcover and softcover ISBN 1-56389-764-4)
*"Leaving the Twentieth Century" (collects #13-18; hardcover ISBN 1-4012-0293-4 and softcover ISBN 1-4012-0294-2)
*"Planetary: Crossing Worlds" (collects the three crossover one-shots above; softcover only ISBN 1-4012-0279-9)
*"Absolute Planetary" (collects preview & #1-12, also script to #1; Slipcased hardcover ISBN 1-4012-0327-2)



* [ Planetary] at the International Heroes Catalogue

External links

* [ Planetary Comic Appreciation Page]
* [ "Planetary" covers gallery]
* [ The Planetary Timeline - Events in Warren Ellis and John Cassaday's PLANETARY]
*comicbookdb|type=team|id=141|title=Planetary (team)
*comicbookdb|type=title|id=649|title="Planetary" (title)

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