Planetary is the greatest work of comic literature ever produced.
That might not be true, but I do believe that it’s at least in the top five. There’s something visceral about it that I can’t really wrap my head around. Maybe we need to do a quick recap, and I will, but if you care more, then you can do the wikipage.
The idea is that there is a secret history of the world, and Elijah Snow has to chronicle it. That’s all the plot that you need–the plot is largely irrelevant, actually. The meat of the book is the secret history that it teases out. It’s a secret history that includes Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, and others in a cabal to save in the world during the 1800s. It’s the kind of history that features Galactus discovered by datatransmitting angels sent from the center of our galaxy to spy on our spiral arm. It’s the kind of secret history where the Fantastic Four are the worst people the human race have ever produced. Those things are fantastic to me, but more than that, there’s a kind of running commentary and criticism to the whole thing.
What I’m really trying to get at is that Planetary is an artifact that comments on other artifacts. It is firmly in the early 2000’s as far as comics writing is concerned, but it comments all the way back to the 1930s. It is a comic that’s pretty much shit unless you’re familiar with the past eighty years of comics. And that makes sense to me. That makes me want to know more, to learn more, to think more about comics themselves. In one issue, John Constantine turns into Grant Morrison–and I have no idea what that actually means. It’s a throwback, a settling in time of the whole work.
So it’s something that’s interesting. It’s something that matters a little bit. It’s creative and it imagines the death of every important hero in favor of bringing back the 1930’s.
I just have a soft spot for any comic book that drops a Reed Richards hundreds of meters into the ground by displacing a bleedship.