Planetary – Protecting the Impossible

This week I will be switching gears a bit and talk about secret organizations in the world of comics. One of the things I love about comics that many people are not aware of are all the different kinds of comics that there are. Comic books don’t just focus on superheroes like  Superman and Batman. There are comics that cater to a variety of different tastes. One of the topics that sometimes gets clumped in with superheroes is the idea of secret organizations. One of the major reasons that I enjoy reading comics is escapism. Comics transport you to worlds where anything is possible. One such universe is the Wildstorm Universe. This is a universe where having powers is taken for granted. Not everyone with superpowers feels the need to put those powers to use to protect the innocent like Superman or Ms. Marvel. A universe where everyone has superhuman abilities sound strange enough but Warren Ellis decided to make it even stranger by writing the Planetary comics series. Ellis crafted a story around an organization tasked with preserving all of the weird events that befall the planet that could insight a panic. Now, if you’re like me you might be thinking what does weird look like in a universe where super-humans are the norm? That is where I found the beauty in Planetary. Whether the story is centered around a vengeful cop-spirit in Japan or an island of monsters (kaiju) that appeared after the nuclear attacks in WWII the stories still feel grounded. By having characters that aren’t focused on their powers and the repercussions of their actions a world of super-humans that involves vengeful spirits and kaiju still feels grounded with characters that anyone can relate to.

The series starts by introducing us to the immortal Elijah Snow with the ability to control the temperature around him; Jakita, who possesses super-speed and super-strength; and The Drummer, who has the ability to see the flow of information – who make up the field team for the secret organization known as Planetary. Now, you’re probably thinking how can anyone relate to characters like these: super-human, immortal, part of a secret organization. Who has a grandpa or elderly neighbour that is set in their ways, can’t figure out how to use all the new devices these days, is always reminiscing about the “good old days”? Well congratulations, you know someone just like Elijah Snow. Everyone has met a driven, and powerful woman whose only focus is getting the job done. Well, meet Jakita. Finally there’s The Drummer. He is just like that new guy in the office that thinks he knows everything. Their superhuman abilities are neither here nor there. Planetary is a comic about people: their motivations and their character.

9 thoughts on “Planetary – Protecting the Impossible

  1. A very well thought-out post, Kyle!

    I liked the fact that you mentioned the mundane-ness of superpowers in this universe and how it seems as though superpowers are a norm of this universe, and that is not the strangest thing there is. The superpowers are almost taken for granted, and rather than the stories focusing on them, the stories revolve around greater mysteries such as monsters, spirits or mystical objects.

    Overall, great job on the post!

    – Hamza

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  2. Well done, Kyle!

    I also thought Planetary was simply beautiful, by far the best writing I’ve seen since we started this course. I think a lot of the beauty lies in how well-crafted this world and its inhabitants are – like you mentioned, even though this is a universe where super powers are the norm, everything still feels grounded and sensible. That’s some spectacular writing, being able to convey a feeling of familiarity within such an outlandish and fantastical realm. I think that also ties into how this entire series is rooted in such recognizable concepts and genres as the ones we’ve discussed, things that many people reading this comic would pretty easily understand and be able to receive properly.

    Anyways, I really liked your post this week, great work!

    Sincerely,
    Dante

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  3. Hi Kyle,

    Wow! I loved your post! It was really insightful and brought to light things I never even thought about before. Yes, in a world where super humans are the norm then “weird” (deviation from the norm) would be a non-super human? (I’m not sure either). I like how you related the three main characters to people who we may know in everyday life. I also agree that reading as a means of escapism is important since life can be stressful and at times people want to relax and escape everything they have to do for a while. It was also interesting how you pointed out how comic books do not just focus on heroes since there are some, like Archie Comics, that do not.

    Great post, I enjoyed reading it!

    -Alicia Chung

    References
    Ellis, W. (2013). Planetary vol 1: All Over the World and Other Stories. New York, USA: Dc Comics, a Warner Bros Entertainment Company. Retrieved from comiXology.

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  4. Hi Kyle,

    I really liked how you mentioned that in this world superpowers are taken for granted and not everyone thinks are being their version of Superman or Ms. Marvel. When everything is abnormal and exciting being your average day superhero does not bring the same feeling of pushing the envelope. I agree with you that this comic book is escapism and that is one of the great things about comics that they let you escape real life problems and issues for a while a drop you in a fascinating new worlds that would be inaccessible to you otherwise.

    Great post, interesting ideas

    -Christian

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  5. Hey Kyle!

    I found your post to be very insightful and liked how you helped readers of your blog connect to the three main characters of Planetary and especially enjoyed your comparison of Elijah Snow to an elder grumpy neighbour out of touch with the world’s latest technology. I also liked that you brought up how that there is a universe created in comic books where everyone has powers and how in such a world where everyone has such powerful abilities not everyone might feel the pressure to strive to be like Superman or Ms.Marvel and how the concept go a hero may change because of this.

    – Chrislyn

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  6. I found your insight in exploring Ellis’s Planetary comic series interesting as the concept of unusual in a world solely where super-humans exist is one that is hard to visualize. Ellis’s ability to narrate a comic with ideas so foreign yet relatable is a cause for admiration. I really liked how you linked the main characters to everyday people in our lives, something Ellis tries to emulate through the comic. This was a well written post that incorporated the main theme of his writing.

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  7. Hey Kyle,

    I think your quote about Elijah Snow being like a Grandpa is quite accurate. He has this lack of a filter that you see in the elderly, which in turn makes him a fascinating character. Especially the premise of what he says is what he is thinking!

    Awesome post!

    Cheers,

    Taher

    Like

  8. Hey Kyle!!

    PLANETARY ROCKS!! I love how it explores different genres and interweaves different characters and genres such as the Hong-Kong 70’s action cinema with Japanes Kaiju movies to the fantastic 4 lore with the 4 introduced at the end of volume 1. Plus, I love how you broke-down the personalities of each of the planetary members. Although i think the Drummer is the tech-bro who you play mario cart with once your bored and Elijah Snow is the grumpy Grand-dad with various wartime stories and adventures.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Emmanuel!

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  9. I really enjoyed this comic because it really highlighted the idea of what being a super hero is. I found this comic focused on everyone having a little bit of heroism in them, and the importance of individuality. Great blog post!

    Like

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