Absolute Planetary Book Two is the second volume containing the final 14 issues of DC/Wildstorm's Planetary. This title is a beloved favourite of mine. The second volume brings the series to a conclusion and I'm disappointed that Elijah Snow, Jakita Wagner, and the Drummer, will no longer be preserving and protecting Planetary's strange and wonderful world. The conflict with the malevolent 4 is also brought to an appropriate finale.
Warren Ellis and John Cassaday have created an imaginative and intelligent work that is beautifully printed in an oversized slip-cased format. As a result, the entire story is told in two impressive volumes. While it is more expensive than most hardcover collections, it is well worth it. Order your copy before the first printing runs out of stock and goes into the publisher's version of limbo.
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This book is why I started reading comics 35 years ago!! It has everything, heroes, villains, spies, ghosts, monsters etc. The writing is wonderful and the artwork outstanding. I wonder how DC got permission for Mr. Ellis and Mr. Cassaday to use the likenesses of so many characters from other companies. If you have been reading comics as long as I have the allusions to other characters are incredibly obvious. To see them twisted and used as the characters Mr. Ellis has created was somewhat uncomfortable but still quite refreshing. Thank you Mr. Ellis and Mr. Cassaday.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Absolute Necessity to Own.July 30 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
When Planetary first launched sometime in 1999, it was a little like the less boisterous and far more cerebral younger sister of the other paradigm shifting Ellis book, (for the time,) the Authority. Basically a story about superpowered "archeologists" of the strange, Planetary is a clever literary vehicle that is at once highly original and somewhat borrowed: it's a literary (and therefore fictional device) for looking into the popular fiction of the last century. Or, it's using fiction to "investigate" fiction (the concepts, characters, tropes and worlds we know). And it's bloody brilliant.
This second volume advances the ongoing conflict between our three main protagonists, (Jakita Wagner, the sexy, super-powered muscle of the group; "Drums," a machine empath who's a little like an idiot savant; and Elijah Snow, a century old heat-extractionist/subtractionist, believed to be a sentient version of the planet's white blood cells,) and a group of shadowy, incredibly dangerous and sadistic people, known only as "the Four," (a sly and deliberately not too well hidden allegory of Marvel's Fantastic Four.) Elijah, like others born in the year 1900, is believed to be a "spirit of the 20th century," - people who were born into the world at the very beginning of the last century to protect and keep the world alive and safe into the next.
The stories here significantly ratchet up the tension and mystery surrounding the enigmatic Four and the Planetary organization. At the end of the last volume, Elijah discovers that he is indeed, the "Fourth Man," of Planetary, in fact the grandfather figure behind the Planetary corporation, which has been archiving strange and weird information about the world for many years. Discovering that his memory was selectively blocked by the leader of the Four, Randall Dowling, Elijah becomes obsessed with his desire to bring these people down.
But in doing so, Ellis takes a grand sweeping slide through popular 20th century myth and pop culture, giving us fairly recognizable versions of Tarzan and the mythical, hidden, golden city of Africa, among many things. He expands on the backgrounds and origins of Jakita and Drums, explores the background of Elijah himself, posits conspiracies and relationships between characters like Dracula and Sherlock Holmes, and offers scientific explanations for concepts of the soul and the afterlife.
I won't get into the details of the stories to allow other readers to experience the process of discovery I went through myself, when reading the series the first time, but Planetary's that kind of ride. Basically like psychedelic drugs in the form of sequential art and text, the stories in this volume are a kaleidoscopic trip through the spirit of popular culture and fiction, with an unapologetic admiration that does not border on being reverential. They also have the benefit of being (a) legal, (b) not harmful to your health in any way, and (c) actually logical and easy to recollect afterward. The series highlights all of Ellis' strengths and his fixations; a talent for marrying compelling fiction with real or hypothetical science, an enduring fascination with space travel, and an admirable skill at building conspiracies. Perhaps one of the greatest achievements here though, is that what appeared to be disparate and random occurrences and stories in the first volume finally blend together into one unmistakably coherent whole that satisfies in many ways. Even apparent coincidences in the stories contained in Planetary Volume 1 find explanation and or deliverance here. And this too represents one of the many strengths of reading Planetary. Every chapter was as different from the previous as the one that followed. But Ellis is able to make one coherent whole of the lot, and while some of the connections are surprising, none ever strain credulity past the point where suspension of disbelief breaks... An exception to the "done in one issue" format and a standout story here, is a two part "mystery in space" saga, in which the team remotely explore a fascinating object in space while dealing elegantly with one of the more powerful members of the Four.
Although Ellis is an accomplished and talented writer, one of his main weaknesses is an inability to end things well. He's incredibly good at building tension and creating characters that sound real. His endings though rarely deliver the "oomph" stories of the type he likes to tell, probably should. I suspect it's cos Ellis is too smart to allow himself to rely on cliché'. Perhaps if he were working in a different medium, this might be a good idea, but in any old fashioned "good versus evil" tale, readers need that emotional catharsis of seeing evil doers suffer!! So the final confrontation between Planetary and the last remnants of "the Four" slightly underwhelms here, at least on that emotional, visceral level, but it is nonetheless clever and ironic. The very last story though, provides a somewhat endearing, if overly sciency "happy ending," the reader does not even realize they want, until they get it.
For all that, Planetary 1-27, now collected in two of these "Absolute" editions, probably represent one of Ellis' best works in the medium. This volume is also cool for two very glowing essays by Alan Moore and Joss Whedon, as well as a script from one of the issues.
Two final observations about the volume itself - My major disappointment with it is that, for a series that was clearly quite important in the last decade, DC comics has gone bone cheap on the extras, a common sin they've been committing with other Absolute volumes. There's no extra material from artist John Cassaday, no interviews from Ellis and Cassaday about the series itself, which I find is criminal. If you're going to call something "Absolute," it should really be the last word as it were in format, providing as much insight into the material, content and process, as you possibly can. How difficult could it be to reprint some interviews with Ellis or Cassaday about their recollections and intentions for the series? This was clearly an important series for DC; it was produced when letters pages were still included in issues and introduced a new language of storytelling into mainstream American comics. Many of the techniques Ellis developed or employed here soon became the standard for the industry. Now everything looks and reads like Planetary or the Authority in pacing and layout. Also, look out for the very soft covering of the actual hardcover. You'll want to be very gentle with the edges of the book itself. Although heavy and of apparently high quality, the material used on the hardcover itself seems to bruise easily at the edges, exposing an almost chipboard like material underneath. So watch out.
I'm of the opinion that Planetary is Warren Ellis' finest comic book project. Ellis is a fascinating writer, but his work tends to go a little heavy on the cynicism and techno babble. Even in its darkest moments, Planetary is always celebrating the joy of exploring the unknown and encountering strange new sights. The material in this second hardcover is a bit more plot-focused than in the first and at least as captivating. This is incredible stuff. John Cassaday's art is much improved overall. Cassaday was still finding his style in the early issues of the series, so this volume is more a showcase for the artist as we know him today. There are few storytellers in the industry as talented as Cassaday.
The art alone makes this Absolute Edition worth a purchase. When you have pages as cinematic and detailed as Cassaday's and colors as lush as Laura Martin's, you want the best presentation format possible.
That said, it's a shame DC didn't try harder to include more supplemental material. There's a brief cover gallery, a glimpse of the art designs for the action figures, and a couple other pages of random material. No notes or scripts from Ellis. No concept art or black and white pages from Cassaday. No interviews. Compared to the copious amount of extras in books like Absolute Sandman, this is just pitiful. Sadly, it's pretty much par for the course with DC's more recent Absolutes.
But again, the primary purpose of these hardcovers is to showcase the story in the best format possible. In that regard this volume is a success. If you're on the fence about buying it, you might as well make the leap now before you lose the opportunity. The first volume is already out of print again and back up to ridiculously high prices on the secondary market. This one looks like it's following suit. The standard-size hardcovers aren't that cheap either. So unless you want to read the series in boring old paperback format, this is the version you want.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Excellent content and production quality. Severely lacking in extras.Jan. 16 2013
Mugiwara No Morpheus
- Published on Amazon.com
This book contains the second "half" of Warren Ellis' Planetary saga. The stories contained within the absolute volume 2 are terrific. Ellis does a good job of fleshing out the Planetary/Wildstorm universe, as well as answering questions fans have been clamoring for over the series 10 year run. I won't go into the details about the story, but I found the conclusion to be wholly satisfying. While initially not crazy about John Cassadays's art, he really comes into his own about 1/4 into the series, and fully hits his stride by the time we get to this book.
As far as the quality of this edition goes, I have some mixed feelings. The binding and overall production on the book are of high quality. However, the slipcase seems to have been assembled poorly, and is a little taller than the book, leaving a 1/2 cm gap. The reproduction of the art is of very high quality, and shows the attention to detail in Cassaday's work. The paper is fairly thick, and glossy, meeting the typically high absolute standard.
One thing not up to standard is the complete lack of work or care put into the extras section. A color coded guide to all the characters that appear on the final issues wraparound cover, a gallery of 3 DC direct action figures, and a single page art spread of the snowflake universe,which comes to a whopping total of 6 pages. They also list introductions from the trade paperbacks as extras, but I've never heard an intro listed as a bullet point before.... Honestly DC seems to have really cut back on their absolute editions. The extras aren't even worth mentioning in their last several releases. Part of the enjoyment of the Absolute edition is that you have the definitive edition, with all the essays, production material, early sketches, script pages, and advertising content. The absolutes used to be like the collectors edition dvd with all the extras, now its just a larger version of the hardbacks.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
If you're even vaguely into comic books, you should read this. It's Warren Ellis being great and imaginative within a Wold-Newton universe, and Cassaday's art is great.
However, that being said: this "Absolute" presentation is barren of bonus material. You're basically paying a $30 surcharge for a larger page size versus buying paperback volumes 3 and 4. I loved the content, but don't really feel I got my money's worth here.
edit: Voting that my review was "not helpful" because you love Planetary (as I do) seems bone-headed given that the hallmark of the Absolute series of releases has been awesome and incredibly bonus features. Letting people know up front that this is *not* part of this presentation seems like extremely pertinent information.
The Finest form of one of my favorites Graphics NovelsAug. 13 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Planetary, despite a rocky publishing history, is one of the finest works of fiction I've read. With likable characters, interesting settings, and a plot based on keeping the world weird, it lightly riffs on the superhero genre; while staying true to the principals that made it great. Unlike Ellis' other superhero pastiche, NEXTWAVE, Planetary is subtle and respectful, but the references are lovingly there. Most importantly, so too are the tales of adventure represented: The Planetary investigations into all corners of the supernatural and strange are always interesting, and the visuals often breathtaking. If you like graphic novels, particularly those from Ellis, this is a must read.