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Planetary #25

Posted: Monday, April 10, 2006
By: Shawn Hill



ďIn From the ColdĒ

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: John Cassaday

Publisher: DC Comics/Wildstorm Productions


Plot: All you need to know is the phrase the title fragment comes from, and that the issue begins with another debriefing between super spy John Stone and Elijah Snow.

Comments: Wow. Every single issue of this title has been killer. Every single one. I forgive the incredible delays for that reason alone. 25 issues since 1999. Basically, the title is published quarterly. If thatís what it takes to make a masterpiece, then thatís what it took.

Elijahís hate for the Four is breathtaking. Ellis has been careful to build up their threat, to catalogue their crimes, to show their vile personalities, bit by bit, in larger and larger disbelieving glimpses, over the last seven years. They are unquestionably despicable to the readers at this point, and thatís certainly a new take on Marvelís hoariest franchise (next to Thor).

Cassaday has illustrated every single issue. Every one. It doesnít come out till heís done. Heís made his reputation on this title, and thus weíre lucky enough to have his equally brilliant work on Astonishing X-men as well. These characters live and breathe through his expressive, realistic, stylized and stylish vision.

On one level this is a very eighties sort of book; itís debt is to The Watchmen, in the sense that those characters were recognizable variations on the big copyrights, but changed specifically to launch a metatextual critique. Ellis has taken on the entirety of Marvel and DC superhero status here, and dipped back into their pulp and science fiction and Western origins, and forward into the cyberpunk future of Asian action and horror films. Weíve seen Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Hulk, Thor, Doc Savage, the Squadron Supreme, the Justice League and a myriad other familiar, but pointedly re-interpreted icons.

What strikes me most humorously at this point is that the hellaciously intense Elijah Stone has ostensibly the same power set as the X-Menís Iceman. But Ellis writes him like Emma Frost when she took over his body; Snow does so much with his icy powers, inventing ever-newer frigid ways to incapacitate his enemies, time and time again. For the last several issues heís been disassembling the Four. When he canít get at them, he converts their allies. Heís got two left to go.

In the meantime, Drummer (initially a variation on Morrisonís bratty lad Dane from Invisibles) has developed a poignant history and Jakita gets to kick some ass, as is her wont. We learn a teeny bit more, and itís exactly what was expected while also being kind of a surprise twist.

Perfect issue, hereís me salivating for more.



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