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5.4.11 Brewtown Andy's Family Feedbag: Planetary

Planetary is a 27 issue limited series written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by John Cassaday (art) and Laura Martin (colors) and published by the Wildstorm imprint of DC Comics. It is also my favorite comic book ever.

Planetary is the story of an organization by the same name who employs three superhumans (super strong & fast team leader Jakita Wagner, a man who can talk to machines known only as The Drummer, and enigmatic new recruit Elijah Snow, whose powers are hinted at in his name) as "archaeologists of the impossible." Their job, as directed by their mysterious benefactor, "The Fourth Man," is to investigate all the weirdness in their world. Each issue is self contained as a new investigation by the team.

Ellis uses this structure as a chance to poke at the familiar archetypes of popular fiction. The first issue dives into pulp heroes of the 1930s and 40s, and from there we get to see Japanese atomic monsters, Hong Kong action movies, DC's own Vertigo line of comics, nuclear movies of the 50s, the back stories of Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Superman, spy comics of the 1960s, and that's just in the first 12 issues. Eventually, it becomes clear that Ellis and Cassaday are working a larger story through these individual stories, particularly in issue 6, when we meet the villains for the series and are asked a question: What if the Fantastic Four were a bunch of selfish jackasses?, and in issue 12, where Elijah Snow figures out who The Fourth Man is.

I hesitate to provide more information, because the series becomes a bigger and bigger mystery as it continues. But it is a rewarding mystery to continue digging into deeper and deeper. If you're a fan of Lost, with its underlying meanings and always expanding mysteries, you'll enjoy Planetary.

As Jakita Wagner says at the end of the first issue: It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.

Previous Feedbags:

Week 1: Sarcastic Voyage

Week 2: Kissing Suzy Kolber

Week 3: The NHL Playoffs