Friday, 4 March 2011

Planetary: volumes 1 and 2

I got five collected volumes of Planetary comics from my friend Kai for my birthday in February. He knows my love of pulp stories, and thought this would be my sort of thing. Oh yes!


Planetary are a three-person team of archaeologists, supported by branch offices around the world. They’re not your typical underpaid crusty graverobber*. Planetary dig up the weird – the lost heroes, the mysterious monsters, the crashed spaceships. The first story in the first volume, 'All Over the World, brings Elijah Snow, an old but not aged man with control over heat, into the team. What really made me sit up was that for his first job as part of Planetary, they were investigating an underground bunker where Doctor Axel Brass was last seen.

Doc Brass. Of course, the character of Doc Savage is still under copyright, so couldn’t be used in the comic, but here was a character analagous to one of the great pulp heroes, Doc Savage: Man of Bronze. I adore Doc Savage. Yes, even the terrible 1975 film. Especially the terrible 1975 film. Doc Brass was the reason Kai knew I’d love the comics.

Other stories feature characters taken from comics, pulp magazines and adventure stories. Those out of copyright, such as Sherlock Holmes, appear directly, while others are hinted at or twisted so if you know your tales of derring-do you’ll be able to identify them. The giant insects and dinosaurs that appeared on a Japanese island just after the Second World War and died out in the 1970s. The beautiful blonde, ‘Allison’, who was ‘disappeared’ in the 1960s, along with other people whos politics had been suspect or ‘slept with the wrong man’, to be experimented on.

All the while Elijah Snow is trying to work out the identity of the mysterious head of Planetary and the team are constantly running up against 'the four', a team of former astronauts who returned, changed, from their mission and now appear to control much of the world from behind the scenes.

Why have I only reviewed two volumes? I’m spinning them out. I’m enjoying so much, I don’t want them to end - but end they will, and soon. And then I will probably spend a happy couple of hours reading all five again in one glorious session.


*I have friends who are archaeologists, and this is how another chum described their department at university. To be fair, while they are still underpaid graverobbers, none of them qualify as ‘crusty’ any more – indeed one sported a fine set of muttonchop whiskers for a bit.

1 comment :

  1. Looking forward to reading your take on the rest of them!

    ReplyDelete