Top positive review
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Complex and subtle take on Earth's mystery archaeologists
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.