Written by Warren Ellis
Art by John Cassaday
Colors by Laura Martin
Letters by Comicraft
Review by Troy Brownfield
If I thought that Mike and Lucas would let me get away with a one word review, I’d do it now. That word?
Needs more? Damn.
Planetary comes to an end with a conclusion so satisfying, so exactly right for the tone of the entire series, that it’s almost a surprise. I say “almost” because Planetary has been nothing but satisfying for years. The cult of worship around the book had less to do with the gaps in between issues and more to do with the fact that it was just a stellar example of what comics can be with vision at the helm.
Hail then Warren Ellis, one of the great mad idea men of comics. Hail John Cassaday in equal measure, because he was able to draw every single thing that Ellis threw at him. Look well, because this is indisputably a Pantheon level duo, a creative team that can said to have created a towering body of work within the frame of a single series.
Honestly, how many reads that deal so intimately with physics and quantum theory can you call “gripping”? How many of them are comics? This was one gripping issue. From the moment that Elijah Snow’s final plan comes into focus, it’s pin-and-needles suspense stretched over the best-looking Hawking lecture you’ll ever see. With ultimate victory over The Four having been achieved in the last installment, Planetary are looking for one more win . . . the most personal one of all.
I was frankly amazed at how much I recalled as soon as I started reading. The truth is that the series overall was so damn good that it just sticks with you. Yes, Ellis has dealt here in archetypes and repurposing, weaving homage and reference and winking asides into a tapestry that was simultaneously recognizable and new. But Planetary was always its own thing, and if you followed it, you didn’t need a recap to get rolling.
With Cassaday, it was a blast to see him bring these characters to life one last time. Cassaday remains one of the great artistic talents currently working in the field. He has a terrific command of expression, and he can render any action, any conversation, any setting, any genre with equal skill. At some point, I’m going to have to sit down and read the whole thing again. I imagine that a great deal of that time will be spent marveling over how good Cassaday made the whole thing look. We should also acknowledge Laura Martin, whose colors gave the whole thing snap and style; she does some of the best lighting effects anywhere.
I know that some people will wait on the collection for this. And that’s fine. But as someone that picked up the first issue ten years ago, I was very happy to read this last piece in its original form. This one closes the chapter on a landmark series, a book that went way beyond your expectations and became a rumination on comics, comics history, science, science fiction, cinema, the intent of genre, and what the ideas of “story” and “reality” really mean. There may be other books that have trod upon similar territory, but there’s absolutely nothing like Planetary. I’m sad to see it go. But man, was I glad to have seen it.