It doesn’t matter if you don’t know who the Planetary are, this Wildstorm/DC Crossover is must-reading. The only problem is that it’s way over-priced.
Here we have one of the books included with the goodie bag I received from my trip to the DC Comics offices a couple weeks back. And if you’re wondering why I haven’t posted any photos or written an article about what I saw there, it’s because DC asked that I not do either of those things. But anyway, when I saw that Batman/Planetary was written by Warren Ellis, I was intrigued. Having read Preacher and been hooked by it I was curious to see how the man who wrote that bizarre tale would handle something like Batman. (Note: as Andy Sherwin pointed out in the comments, I got Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis confused. Warren Ellis did NOT write Preacher but for whatever reason as I was reading/writing about this book this morning I thought that he did. I guess it’s because Ennis/Ellis are names that look alike so my brain misfired. Just ignore what I said here)
As much as I enjoyed Preacher it did have a knack of trying too hard to be edgy or shocking and that same attitude presented itself at the beginning of this book. Within the first four pages we are already treated to references of drug abuse and pornography and I was sure that those sort of R-rated elements would be seen the whole way through, but I was wrong. After you get past the gruff exterior what you get with Batman/Planetary is a surprisingly lighthearted and touching story that’s a love letter to all the different eras of Batman mythology.
It’s a crossover that works perfectly. Planetary is a group that seems (again, I’m ignorant when it comes to this Wildstorm series so bear with me) to deal with the multi-verse rather frequently. Their Gotham is a very realistic one where there is no Batman to speak of but that quickly changes when this team of three superpowered heroes arrives to track down a young man whose reality altering power switches this plane of existence between the various 196,833 other different realities. This means that once we’re transported to a universe where, once the Caped crusader can intervene, we can witness frequent transitions between the Bob Kane Batman, Neal Adams Batman, Frank Miller Batman, and numerous other interpretations of our favorite iconic character. These dimensional disruptions lead to some really funny scenes as the Planetary crew must wrestle with all these wildly different varieties of the World’s Greatest Detective as they all try to track down and detain the out-of-control young man whose powers are altering space and time.
It’s a short story but very good book that I couldn’t put down! If I was scoring this review on the quality of the content alone I would award it a 9.5 or 10/10 and a big part of that is due not only to the snappy dialogue, great characterization, and story, but largely because of the extraordinary attention to detail that artist John Cassaday brings to the table. His realistic illustrations are a pleasure to look at throughout the story as are the vibrant colors but I was really amazed at how perfectly the artist captured each unique depiction of the Dark Knight. Cassaday’s ability to alter his style to accurately portray the pencils of legendary artists who came before him is quite astounding. His Neal Adams Batman is spot-on and the Bob Kane Batman…what am I saying? It’s everything. Everything looks fantastic.
The complete Warren Ellis script. I like seeing this sort of bonus material. It’s always a treat to see how minimalist or overly detailed different comic writers are and what sort of style they use when writing their scripts. There should’ve been more supplemental material than this though. Original sketches by John Cassaday would’ve been nice. It’s a book that needs more extras to justify its expensive price tag.
Here’s where I deduct the points. The artwork is phenomenal and the story is funny, fascinating, and emotional but in the end it’s a 48 page comic being sold for $22.99 and that’s obscene. Even if you go to Amazon it’ll cost you $18.77 and that too is asking a lot. Ideally, this book should’ve been around $10 bucks. I think the level of quality you get plus the script and deluxe format would’ve made this story totally worth around $10 dollars but not $22.99!
I loved this story and the artwork is perfection. It’s one of the most balanced crossovers I’ve ever seen where characters from both titles are treated with the utmost respect and we get a terrific celebration of many of Batman’s most iconic incarnations. But it’s only 48 pages long and costs $22.99! That’s absurd. Yes, it’s the larger “deluxe” format and you get the original script by Warren Ellis, but I still feel that I need to bring the score down because $22.99 is just asking too much for such a short read. I highly recommend every Batman fan read this but you can find it digitally on Comixology for a mere $1.99.