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4.1 out of 5 stars14
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 23 July 2001
Set in the same reality as Stormwatch and The Authority, this book sees Warren Ellis exploring the convoluted limits of his imaginative universe. Planetary are a trio of superhuman 'mystery archaeologists' involved in mapping the secret history of the twentieth century. The book begins with the recruitment of Elijah Snow to the group, and , if this book has a hero, it's him. Like the fabulous Jenny Sparks, he's as old as the twentieth century, but his memory has mysterious gaps and he's somewhat of a reluctant convert, complaining and questioning continually. What sets this concept apart is that it isn't a superhero book like Stormwatch or The Authority - saving the world is incidental rather than integral to their agenda, and as such we're treated to delightful stories, featuring ghosts, mutant monsters, secret cadres of superhumans from World War II and so on (and the occasional plug for Stormwatch and The Authority). To emphasise the anthological nature of the book, the original individual covers are included, and each Planetary logo is different. Its one weakness is that at times the complexity of the overarching plot, and the episodic nature of the early stories can leave you wishing for a conclusion - imagine Mulder and Scully with superpowers, then double the weirdness, triple the paranoia and square the scale they operate on, and you come somewhere close. Alone, it's a masterful, if slightly unsatisfying, feast for those who appreciate Ellis' work, illuminated throughout by John Cassaday's art. In conjunction with the sequel volume, when the mists clear slightly, it's a cracking piece of work that throws the distinction between comics and graphic novels into stark relief.
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They are Planetary, their job on earth is to investigate all those folk laws and myths, and keep them out of the public eye, ranging from a Monster Island in Asia to an American space mission gone wrong. Collecting the first six issues of the comic book and the hard to find preview, Planetary is what the X-Files would be like if they existed in a world filled with superheroes. Both the heroes and villains add to the atmosphere of the comic, from the mentally unstable Drummer to the worlds greatest hero Doc Brass, each of them has something to do to further or twist the plot of the tale, and with each story set in a different part of the world there's no chance of getting bored. Ellis & Cassady do amazing work providing a comic book that will appeal to adults the same way the now classic Watchmen does, so go on add it to your shopping basket now!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 7 February 2012
Planetary has always seemed to me to be a less than substantial series of Warren Ellis'. They're a group that fit in between The Authority and Stormwatch and act as a sort of Vector-13 but with superpowers. Also, Ellis really lets go of any subtlety of concept here, he just goes for it.

So there are stories of a group in the 40s who built a machine that created the world or can create the world and brought about the end of the world but the man who learned to not age survived and guarded the portal without food or water for decades... huh? There's an island of Godzilla monsters, a live spaceship that wants to get back into the Bleed (the space between space), and more zaniness. All of which to say, imaginative in concept, seen through the prism of the characters, not so impressive.

Because while Elijah Snow is an intriguing character dressed all in white like Tom Wolfe, his powers are never explicitly stated nor why he was chosen or who he really is. He remains the consummate interesting character but for all intents and purposes is little more than a cipher here. Jakita and the Drummer are very poor characters.

There's an interesting story that parodies the Fantastic Four's creation albeit much, much darker, that had potential, but like all the stories presented here was all too brief.

The story concepts save the book from becoming unreadable but ultimately Planetary, as a group of archaeologists with superpowers, failed to make much of an impression and I was left feeling that it was more of an outline than a fully fleshed-out series.
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A paperback collection of the first six issues of the comic series Planetary. This involves three people: White haired and white suited Elijah Snow, a man as old as the century. Super powered lady Jakita Wagner. And the Drummer. A somewhat eccentric individual with a pair of drumsticks who can communicate directly with machines.

At the start of the first issue Wagner recruits Snow to Planetary. An organisation that searches the world for strange and wonderful things, and discovers the secret history of the planet.

The first few issues unfold slowly and may appear to be stand alone stories as planetary discover certain things. But gradually a bigger picture unfolds. There's a lot of mystery as Snow slowly learns about the organisation he now works for and the people he works with [the identifity of the person who funds planetary remains to be revealed] and a bigger threat that seemingly ties everything together is revealed.

This being the start of a series that is one long narrative it doesn't perhaps read well in isolation if you're looking for short stories with a beginning a middle and an end, but as the beginning of something larger it is an intriguing read that should have you wanting to find what comes next.

Every issue tells a different kind of tale, many using thinly veiled versions of famous fictional characters.

The art by John Cassady is delightfully detaied and enhanced by superb colouring.

With an introduction from comic writing legend Alan Moore, all six individual issue covers, and a short preview story for the series as well, this is an excellent start to a memorable series.
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on 25 July 2001
Quite frankly this is one of the best comics in recent years. It deals with an organisation called Planetary - "Three people who walk the world in search of strangeness and Wonders". They are mystery archeologists searching the World's secret history. On it's most basic level it takes the comic book archetypes and twists them on their head. Warren Ellis pays homage to great characters such as Doc Savage, Capt Marvel and the like, but comes to them with a fresh perspective and weaves them seamlessly into a tale of a Conspiracy beyond all others. They are brought to life by the gorgeous art of John Cassady. In this first collection we are introduced to Godzilla like creatures, the ghost of a Hong Kong cop, Strange crafts from other dimensions and of course the Planetary trio. They consist of Elijah Snow (a 100 year old man with gaps in his memory), Jakita Wagner (an attractive super woman always in search of adventure) and The Drummer (a lunatic who talks to machines). They are funded by the mysterious Fourth Man. If you like adventure, intrigue, mysteries, conspiracies, giant monsters and cranky old men then buy this collection which brings some wonder back into the world.
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on 9 April 2013
I chose this title of interest as a trial of reading graphic novels on the Kindle Fire HD. That was my main objective in buying the F-HD in order to conserve space.
In this medium this title uses a slightly fiddly 'panel focus function' (this steps through to, and expands, the next panel or zooms into the key segment / text of a lage or full page panel.) rather than pages which can be resized by dragging the image. The art work is crisp and pleasing, and the stories short and snappy and pleasingly pithy. It all happens in it's own 'universe' which is intriguing as it is revealed. There's plenty of room for this title to flourish and deepen.

The Fire HD is smaller than your average DC / Marvel title, making text, personally speaking, a little hard to read unnassisted , and the artwork is clearly detailed but without a way to 'get closer'.to it. It remains to be seen if a Kindle App on a device with a llarger monitor would conpensate or whether I would do better with the newer, larger, fire.
I will buy more titles in this seriies. The main choice is in which medium to buy them. The paperbacks are cheaper and more comfortable to read, but need storage. So cheap, in fact, I may re-buy the 1st volume for comparison.

Choose a format and try it out. Another winner from one of today's leading comics authors.
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on 14 April 2011
At just under 30 issues this series did well to create the impression of multiple one-off storylines whilst actually building towards a single integrated plot. It was very well conceived and executed with brilliant artwork and snappy dialogue.

You'll notice pretty quickly that most of the characters are reinventions of popular comics heroes. I spotted the Hulk, Iceman, Captain America, the Fantastic Four and a bunch of others who are arguably interpretations of lesser known characters (or else just coincidence). It seems a stupid excuse for a book, to just rewrite all these existing creations, and akin to parody (or plaigarism). This element, I didn't like.

Other than that, it's a cool read with some great twists, lots of surprises and great, memorable moments. Not the genius that some people make it out to be, but worth a read if you can find it cheapish.

7 / 10

David Brookes
Author of 'Half Discovered Wings'
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on 3 March 2016
I read this in French as the local supermarket had a copy for only a couple of Euro. The translation's decent and keeps the rhythms and spiky wit of Warren Ellis' original text. The story is all set-up, though. We're introduced to the main characters and get to see a few freaky and old-school sci-fi concepts spectacularly illustrated, but there's not actually a lot going on. Mostly people just stand around looking at the weird thing (one per issue) and talking about it. At the end of issue 4 one character basically says "We should stop standing around talking about this stuff and actually do something", but it's a little late. I dunno. I may try one more volume to see if it starts to go anywhere.
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I'm not one to easily over-praise something I like. I mostly look at the things I enjoy as critical as possible to come to as much of an honest opinion as possible, so that my words really mean something instead of turning into a bold statement which helps nobody. With this title however I can do nothing else but expres how much I enjoy it. It's as close to "historical fiction" as a mainstream 'superhero'-title is ever going to be and it's done well. And the term "superhero-title" isn't exactly right either because it isn't a superhero title, but the main characters ARE supernatural.
About the story: Elijah Snow, a mysterious man who was born on January 1st of the year 1900 encounters a woman called Jakita Wagner (who is accompagnied by another man called 'the Drummer') and she invites him to be part of a supernatural archaeologist group called 'Planetary'. She invites him to be the third member of their field-team who's goal it is to unravel the 'secret history of the world'. They try to map events in history how they REALLY took place, not how the common public was told it all happened. Elijah gets offered a salary of one million dollars a year for the rest of his life and all other professional expenses will also be taken care off by an anonymous financial aid only known as 'the fourth man', a man nobody knows. Elijah accepts and goes on his way to see things common man has never known was there.
The great thing bout this title is that each detail, as little as it looks at first, turns into a mystery of his own in time. Each story in each issue seems to be a self-contained story at first, but later on turns out to be just a piece of the puzzle in the 'grand scheme of things'. There's very little going on that's useless information. What also is very nice is that the essence, the starting line if you will, of the series is reality as WE know it. It's about OUR reality (not one made up as a comic-reality), WE are 'the common public and the way things really happened occured behind OUR backs on things that are REALLY in our history (like the first man on the moon and such things). Think of it as having a little bit the mood like 'X-Files' and you'll know what I mean.
So finally I would like to advise this title to all people who are not strictly interested in superhero clashes but not neccesarily only into 'serious comics' either. It's a mix of the two and it's done very well with a good mixing of illustrating and text. None of the two factors is dominating, it's very well balanced and it makes for a very good experience. For me it's easily the best writing I've seen of Warren Ellis so far.
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on 24 May 2013
This book is definitely worth a try, the storyline is great, very enjoyable, the characters are likable and funny when needed, the art of John Cassaday is fantastic, it’s good to look at. I recommend this book to anyone who loves comics or just interested in getting to know the genre.
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