Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Leroy Douresseaux on "BATMAN/PLANETARY DELUXE"


WRITER: Warren Ellis
ARTIST: John Cassaday
COLORIST: David Baron
LETTERS: Comicraft’s Wes Abbott
ISBN: 978-1-4012-3184-2; hardcover
96pp, Color, $22.99 U.S., $25.99 CAN

One of my favorite comic books is back in print, and it’s better than just being back in print. It has come back to life in a hardcover edition with a sweet extra – the original script. I love this comic book. It is eternally awesome.

Published in 2003, Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth #1 was a one-shot pitting the stars of the Wildstorm Productions comic book, Planetary, against the Dark Knight himself, Batman. This 48-page, prestige format comic book was written by Warren Ellis and drawn by John Cassaday, the creators of Planetary.

DC Comics recently reprinted this comic book in a hardcover edition entitled, Batman/Planetary Deluxe. This new edition even includes Warren Ellis’ script for the original comic book.

For those who don’t already know, Planetary was superhero comic book published by DC Comics’ Wildstorm imprint. The series was previewed in the summer of 1998 as a backup feature, and the regular series began in early 1999, running for 27 issues before ending in 2009. The comic book focused on an organization called Planetary which sought to discover the secret history of the world. The stories focused on Planetary’s field team: a kind of superwoman named Jakita Wagner, a scruffy young man named Drummer who could detect and manipulate information streams, and Elijah Snow, a man dressed in a white suit and who could create intense cold and extract heat.

In Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth, Planetary travels to Gotham City, the world’s most dangerous city, to capture a serial killer named John Black. On Planetary’s Earth, there is no Batman to protect Gotham. Jakita, Drummer, and Snow find Black in Gotham’s infamous Crime Alley, but they also discover Black’s amazing power. He can rewrite reality.

The first time Black’s power activates, he and Planetary are in a new Gotham City, and this one has a Batman. And this Caped Crusader is not happy to see the Planetary trio. Every time Black rewrites reality, however, Gotham changes, and so does The Batman. The only things about Batman that don’t change are his relentlessness and his desire to bring Black to justice and keep him out of Planetary’s hands.

Truthfully, Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth is not an exceptional Planetary comic book, nor is it an exceptional Batman comic book. It is simply an exceptional and wonderful comic book that puts Planetary and Batman together. It is one of those comic books that is so fun to read and is still enjoyable after repeated readings.

Its strength lies in the talents and skills of its creators. Warren Ellis’ script offers the imagination, inventiveness, and snappy dialogue with sparkling wit that is often evident in his comics. John Cassaday’s beautiful, photorealistic art takes on a dream-like quality here, especially as he offers interpretations of various incarnations of Batman (including Batman creator Bob Kane’s, Adam West’s campy Batman of the 1960s television series, and Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Batman). David Baron’s evocative coloring subtly and delicately shifts in order to appropriate the right mood and look depending on what a moment in the story requires.

Simple and clean, Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth was that thing that is now rare: a self-contained gem – the comic book that offers complete entertainment in one small package. Now, it is back in the more permanent edition that it deserves – with Ellis’ blueprint/script. Batman/Planetary Deluxe is the book you didn’t know you had to have, and it is worth every penny.



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