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The Planetary Omnibus Hardcover – January 28, 2014
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About the Author
Warren Ellis is a prolific writer whose works include the novel Crooked Little Vein (William Morrow) and, for Marvel Comics, Iron Man, Nextwave, Newuniversal and many others. His work for DC Comics includes PLANETARY, RED, STORMWATCH, OCEAN, GLOBAL FREQUENCY, HELLBLAZER, and a five-year run on TRANSMETROPOLITAN.
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Top Customer Reviews
This edition collects everything in one volume. EVERYTHING. Even the "Planetary Preview" issue, which was a bagged promotion with some Wildstorm books months before #1 hit the shelves. (It is placed after #12 in the Omnibus, as opposed to after #6 in "Volume" collected editions).
It also includes the three Planetary crossover books (Two are in-continuity, One is a "what-if" Elseworlds book. These are included at the end of the book, after the final issue of the series - #27). These crossovers have already been collected in their own volume, but were notoriously absent from the "Absolute Planetary" mega-collections. I believe the Preview issue was also absent, but I will confirm that when I check my Absolute Planetary Vol.1 and Vol.2 books. Will update review if I find the otherwise.
Planetary/Authority: Ruling the World
Planetary/JLA: Terra Occulta
Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth
covers of all issues listed above
covers of all collected editions (volumes, absolute editions)
script for first issue
early promotional page
Worth every penny.
The Planetary is a difficult comic to break down without revealing spoilers. What I can say is that it is a mosaic collection, meaning each chapter feels like it is a separate entity but the further you read the more you realize how much they are connected. Each chapter adds more character development, mystery, and comical grandeur until all its pieces start clicking together like clockwork. Three quarters of the way through you see it take off to the page-turning resolution, and then you sit back, realizing how much went over your head.
Comics are not pieces of art that should be consumed quickly, or at least that was how they started. That is all the more true with this series not just because of the overarching storyline but because of the love and care put into each page of each issue. Warren Ellis’ attention to timelines and plot made each piece connect to the overall arch, but he and his team made each issue into stunning pieces of wisdom, adventure, thrill and mind-bending, spell-binding pieces of pulp art. You get more out of the decades this comic pays homage to if you read the dialogue alongside noting scenery, character expression, plot twists, and by paying attention to the outlandish science presented in a couple chapters. You may ask what Dracula is doing appearing in a chapter, but you should also understand that the issue he is in is a love-letter to the gothic genre, complete with dark scenery and winding shadows. You may ask how Sherlock Holmes is important to the story, but you should first stop for a moment to appreciate the genre he comes from and the reason he was chosen to appear in that issue.
A final thing I would like to address is this: stop reading at the end. Do not read further the second you feel the story ended. The moment Snow and his team achieve something phenomenal, that is the end. While the issues afterwards feature Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman dealing with the consequences The Planetary’s intelligence cause after they were revealed to the world, they are outside of the overall arch Warren Ellis constructed. You can read them, but be warned that they are very different from the content before it.
Comics begin as scripts; dialogue, description, and action on a page. It is up to the artist to translate that script into pages of panels that are full of drama, tension, mystery, or whatever aspect each comic scene was written as. Therefore, artwork can make or break a comic’s appeal. The Planetary had the astounding talent of John Cassaday attached to the entire project, which blessed the series with an immaculate soul in every speck of detail.
Each panel has a purpose to Mr. Cassaday. For scenes that are meant to be beautiful or tragic, as in the page attached below, the colors are deep and vivid. In the third panel to the left of the photo, there is more focus placed on Snow reaching and the woman’s crumbling clothes.
The time investment poured into that is what helps us imagine Snow continually reaching, possibly even imagining him holding the jacket tightly. The next panel shows Snow covered in shadows. Following the previous panel, the artwork in this panel captures subtle character development. Snow does not have to say that he feels sorry for what happened to the woman, nor what upset him. We know that her death is the weight on his chest, which helps us understand exactly how human Snow is when we are shown his true birth and purpose in the forthcoming chapters. Drummer and Jakita are shown in less detail, and then as shadows. That is a manifestation of how desensitized these two characters are, which will be brought up again.
Another example of Mr. Cassaday’s work bringing a whole new dimension to the comic is also attached. He chooses to change drawing and coloring style in the fourth and fifth panel as the scene between the team gives way to Snow’s flashback. The oily-like coloring functions just like fade to black does for films.
There is also the backgrounds. The page prior to this one is drawn and colored with the simplicity and tension of interrogation rooms in film and television. Tension from the page practically drips into you fingers as the two pages unfold. Another aspect is the colors being split behind the characters. On the page before the one pictured is a panel featuring Snow and Jakita. They have a large distance between them, and there is a triangle of blue behind Snow and a triangle of black behind Jakita, both shapes equal in size. In them Mr. Cassaday gave us as readers a symbol of the tension between them. This page’s fourth panel, however, shows Snow’s blue decreasing, which in context (considering the scene change and Snow’s confession) is a symbol of the two confiding and trusting each other again.
I have not come close to conveying the breadth of Mr. Cassaday’s work. All throughout this omnibus he draws a massive, adorned ship that travels the multiverse, then finds a way to express the micro universe and elements, then crafts a computer-like afterlife machine that keeps souls in storage. No matter the subjects and story he draws for each chapter, they all seem so believable, but more importantly human.
With the insurgence of comic book adaptations hitting big and little screens, most of us inevitably pick up a comic book to see where our favorite characters started. All of them deserve to be enjoyed considering all the love poured into them. However, if you want a comic that can make you think, that is more than just a story of adventure and superpowers, look no further than "The Planetary". It is a comic that has set the bar impossibly high concerning plot and artwork. It is an undiscovered treasure for too many so I hope that one day it will get the adaptation it needs to give it the spotlight it deserves.
PLANETARY OMNIBUS collects the entire series from issue #1 - #27, the preview issue released in 1998 #33 of Gen13 and issue #6 of C-23, as well as PLANETARY/THE AUTHORITY, PLANETARY/BATMAN, and JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. The following are collected in the links below:
Planetary VOL 01: All Over the World and Other Stories (collects preview & #1-6)
Planetary VOL 02: The Fourth Man (Planetary (Windstorm)) (collects #7-12)
Planetary VOL 03: Leaving the 20th Century (Planetary (DC Comics)) (collects #13-18)
Planetary Vol. 4: Spacetime Archaeology (collects #19 -27)
Planetary: Crossing Worlds(collects the three crossover one-shots)
--- Since each of the links has far more detailed information on each of the collected books, I will not go into as much depth and keep it more summarized. ---
PLANETARY OMNIBUS stars Elijah Snow, a century baby (a person born January 1, 1700, 1800, 1900, etc.) who has immortality from being born 1900 and can create cold and heat from his surroundings. Snow has lost majority of his memory of the last century and gets approached by Jakita Wagner, a metahuman with enhanced physical traits, and the Drummer, another metahuman that can communicate and control machinery, to join Planetary. Planetary is an organization of archeologist that is about uncovering the world's secret history backed by a mysterious Forth member. By having Snow's knowledge of the last century in helping Planetary, it means fending off the true villains of the world of metahumans called the Four, a parallel Fantastic Four (Dr. Randall Dowling, Kim Süskind, William Leather and Jacob Greene) intent on using the secrets of the world for personal gain. What exactly is this Four group and its true motives? What knowledge of the past has Snow forgotten? What does it mean for the future of the planet? All these answers will come in a dramatic and grand finale.
PLANETARY is not like other comics where there are heroes and villains fighting it out. This book looks at the genres of the past 100 years from 1900 to 2000 and makes a fitting ode to world of fiction including everything from traditional work like Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, to Pulp comics The Shadow and Doc Savage, to DC figures the Justice League, Vertigo (an entire issue dedicated to the 1980's British invasion on comics) and even Marvel comics themselves (The Four references for examples). Planetary also uses pop culture like Godzilla and The Lone Ranger. This makes it that Snow and the Planetary gang are just a bunch of archeologist traveling the world in pursuit of knowledge within those 100 years including looking for monsters, aliens, other superhumans, and unusual relics in the pursuit for the betterment of mankind and out of sheer curiosity. It's a simple premise but it works out beautifully, especially those who have extensive knowledge of the histories being presented.
Each chapter within PLANETARY are mostly stand alone stories, full of action and insightful interplay between Jakita, Drummer, and Snow. But Ellis cleverly makes it through each chapter a deeper mystery gradually unfolds, building around the identity and history of Elijah Snow, as well as the true nature of Planetary and its adversaries. You'll be confused reading at first, but mostly everything gets explained and fleshed out near the course of the series. The overall themes also go into the metafictional and non-fictional (things like America landing on the Moon) that also give some insightful look of comics not like many others. It will definitely get you thinking about things.
The three One-Shots include the 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. Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth: features various versions and interpretations of Batman spanning the character's history. And Planetary/JLA: Terra Occulta: standalone story featuring an alternate version of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, who oppose a version of Planetary that act like the Four. Not as great as the regular 27 main series, but still worth your time.
Mention must be given to artist John Cassaday, who has made some of the most vivid, detailed, abstract, flashy, and emotional books out there. It's simply lovely. Cassaday's work also include Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men and Captain America and he actually did all 27 issues of this series (AND the Planetary/Batman issue!). Art on JLA is by Jerry Ordway, The Authority by Phil Jimenez also do great jobs.
For this 2014 omnibus is still glued/binding (will DC ever change that?), but it's still super sturdy. The book was a little tight when I took the plastic wrapping off, but it layed flat with barely any gutter lost near the spine (it might be different for other books though...). The paper is think and non-glossy, so lights won't reflect off the paper. The duskjacket uses issue #26 as the front cover, the spine of the jacket is black with simple modern text of "The Planetary Omnibus", with the back jacket being blue and made up of puzzle pieces and the summary of the book. The really cool part here is under the duskjacket. The cover itself looks like the Planetary Guides illustrated from the book! This gives it a unique look and vibe of that of a travel/dictionary. Well done on that part, DC! Beyond the 27 issues, the preview issues, and three One-Shots, we get every cover of the singles, trades, AND Absolute Editions, including the script to issue #1. Some sketches, a teaser ad, and introduction by Alan Moore and Afterword by Joss Whedon.
Overall, if there are any problems, it that this isn't like convential comics. It has it's share of slower and wordier issues, as well as confusing plots and concepts of metafiction that might make your head spin (though I do not think it's as deep as the likes of Grant Morrison, just so you know). So it's not for everyone. And considering this was published under the Wildstorm brand, this is for teens to adults. There is quite a lot of cursing and adult themes without going mature status, so this is not for children (you already know that, but it's still a heads up).
None the less, PLANETARY OMNIBUS is possibly one of my favorite series now and I can see why this series set the bar for comics in a lot of ways. Great characters, superb storytelling, enriching art, and a ton of content for the price at $75 and cheaper under Amazon (there's enough here where this could be a $100 book) AND it has the three One-Shots that the expensive Absolutes do not have. The only flaw might be the high-concept and ideas Ellis works with, but I think the positives greatly outweight the negatives. So buy this omnibus if you are a fan of Ellis, or Cassaday, or a college student who want a thorough look at the comic world and literature itself. This is one of the best series that deserves its place on the bookshelf with the other classic.