Planetary #27

May 6, 2008

Back to popular culture, rather than eco-despair or whatever.

My big question is: where the heck is Planetary #27?

If, like me, you’re a (relatively) mature, (relatively) intelligent consumer of comic books chances are you may have read Planetary, created by writer Warren Ellis and artist John Cassaday more than a decade ago, with #1 cover dated April 1999. And chances are, if you became a fan, like me you will have had moments of thirst and bewilderment waiting for each successive issue.

Even more so than the haphazard titles written by the likes of Brian Michael Bendis or Joss Whedon, Planetary has had an almighty palaver of a run. Ten years and only 26 issues published, due to set-backs ranging from illness to Cassaday getting other gigs and, well, apparently being one slow creator of comic book art. (He was, for example, employed by Marvel to do the artwork on Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run, something that itself appears randomly, like a Time Lord with a faulty TARDIS [another topic I’d like to touch on one of these days]).

For those of you who read comics, but haven’t encountered Planetary, it’s one of those titles that skirts the edges of traditional superheroics. The Planetary team are superhumans themselves, but don’t go round beating up villians (leastways, not as a primary occupation, but they’re not averse to it; indeed arguably, the world’s greatest supervillain’s are their greatest foes, but this only emerges in fragments during the run of the comic). Instead, they are “Archaeologists of the Impossible”, unearthing secrets within human history.

I heartily recommend picking up the copy of the first collection to enjoy Ellis’s masterful, playful storytelling, which riffs on numerous genres, references a slew of other pop culture gubbins, and introduces, through nominally self-contained issues, the wider, overarching narrative.

Actually, I say “I heartily recommend”, but this has a caveat – the series’ final issue, the legendary #27, has been pending for months. Ellis has reported that he has written it, but whether Cassaday will ever actually finish the artwork is another matter. Come on Mr Cassaday, us fans need the “closure” for crying out loud…


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