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Millarworld book club: Planetary issue 26 - The end!


#283

Don’t they make references to movies like that back in issue #2?


#284

Planetary #8: The Idea Bomb

I’ll have to agree with above sentiments that this issue really delves back into the world building aspect of the series. After the over indulgence of the previous issue, #8 is able to grasp back into making the story worthwhile. The concepts are all clever and fun to see, from the various B-movie monsters and plots that are horrifically brought to life. It never the less finds the time to tie these back to what bigger myth arc there is to find with the Four and with Hark.

Furthering the idea that all of these nodes of fiction are part of a grand, terrible, conspiracy and occasional hobby really helps to underpin how everything can become a commodity in this universe. Something that finds a rather marked expression in the “ghost”, who has become a object and player in this story. Once her role is done, so is she.


#285

Last call for #8, and then shall we move on to #9 tomorrow?


#286

Great Issue!

(I Wonder if i will ever said otherwise of this series… I Think not)

There´s, no much to say after what has been said by the others before.
The “Blend” of fact and fiction surrounding the idea of an American “Science City” (And the existence of their soviet counterparts); the way that this “Leaks” into the real world in the form of the B Movie monsters of late ´50, and the connection that is made between them and the Four (Wich, if I remember Correctly, in the comics have their first adventure out of the desire of Reed to beat the Soviets in the Space Race), it all connects, very nicely into the Mythos of Planetary.
Still, I Think that, what Ellis really does Here is “Lift The Courtain” on the horrors in wich the US goverment created, or at leat, take part, because of Fear. The program that gives us The 50 Feet Woman, and the Giant Ants, it´s, in reality “MKultra” Kicked to eleven, and the victims of it all, are the Americans victims of Mcarthism.
The powerfull thing that Ellis does here in demostrate that the “Enemy”, the Other, The Monster, it´s nothing more than ourselves transformated by fear. The “Red Scare”, it´s simply a ghost, a feeling, a sort of machine (A very Comic-y idea) that the powerfull (The Four, but also, the goverment, and corporations) can put in motion whenever they want to get away with murder (Literally).

I will say that, today, it´s a theme that´s more pressing that ever… but, to be true, It always is.


#287

The interesting thing about the Red Scare is that it actually happened during the early 1900’s between the wars - not really the 50’s after WW2. Basically, the period of the pulps rather than the period of B-movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (based on a science fiction novel). Just after WW1, America, and many Western European nations, became much more Nationalistic and the USA added isolationist to that as well. On top of that, the Bolshevik revolution brought about a great deal of fear of immigrants who were much more numerous due to the great demand for cheap labor and who were much more socialist due to their backgrounds. There was real fear that a communist revolution could happen here. Violent strikes and a revolutionary labor movement were in full swing and the depression just made that worse.

This fear of communism opened the door for fascism as many leaders who would have to fight the Axis later were hesitant to act when the fascists took out the communists. People forget that the expectation Germany would become communist was practically considered inevitable. In fact, Lenin knew that Russia was not ready for communism and considered the Soviet Union to be a holding action until Germany became the communist utopia he envisioned it would.

In America - possibly in the UK as well - there is very little taught of this period of history and especially to do with the labor activity of this time. Certainly, no one in America would’ve heard of the Tonypandy Riots of the Welsh coal mining strikes which forced home secretary Winston Churchill to send in the military to support the police, but are they taught even in Wales? I doubt many people in Boston learn about the Boston Police Strike of 1919. Like in Planetary, there is a secret history to our world hidden by a fictitious one.

At the heart of modern history from the 1700’s to today, the real battle has been between workers and owners. Even during WW2, strategies were guided not simply by the desire to beat the Fascists, but also to ensure that the post-war period would be a capitalist and not a communist one.


#288

Ok, moving on.

Planetary #9: “Planet Fiction”


#289

Planteray #9: We Still Haven’t Figured It Out

One of the best issues of the series, in my estimation. It does a few crucial things rather well. For starters, it doesn’t fall into the same old pitfalls that a lesser issue would. Rather than follow the investigative formula, the issue drives right into the action. This has the benefit of showcasing how different the time period of the issue was, with the more excitable atmosphere and tension allowing the (old) trio to shine through with dynamics. It doesn’t waste the time to be more intricate, because that would have slowed down the effect it would have had otherwise as being a snapshot of the past. The action in itself is a driving force, as no real part of the issue lags.

It hits the ground running and never really stops, until it does, which helps create this breach of security, safety, and really everything that allows for the series’ backdrop to gain some dimensionality. Now older vagueries and such are coming into play and the larger scope starts to build real momentum. The fiction that the issues plays with is done rather well also. As it’s not the focus, it helps to build the air of mystery inherent in the conceit. All around making for a fun past-issue without sacrificing the core appeal of the already in-progress narrative.


#290

Except for just ending.

There is no “end” of the story, the story just ends.

Similar problems throughout the entire series.


#291

Like I mentioned, I like that it just ends.
Mainly because it aids the atmosphere of the fiction being examined and that this is just a snapshot. But you’re right that it does happen commonly, here it’s more of a feature than flaw.


#292

I do not disagree.


#293

Planetary #9 entitled “planet fiction” begins with a rocketship, but it isn’t just any old rocketship. It’s the sort that you find on covers of Astounding Stories or Amazing Stories magazines.


Even though the nods to Grant Morrison are strong in this one, I think it’s wise to look at the clues related to the project that the Planetary team invades.

Planet Fiction must be a nod to Planetary Fiction or Planetary Romance, probably the earliest science fiction genre to come about in America, and it covers everything from Flash Gordon to Star Trek and Star Wars. From the clue involving the ship at the beginning, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that the “fictitious world” they entered and returned from was in this genre.

Now, it is important to note that the project is concerned with fiction’s relationship to their world. It is also important to note that this is a fictional character speaking about fiction in his world to other fictional characters. It’s safe to say that “fiction” in a fictional world functions differently than fiction does in our “real” world… unless our world is fictional too.

At this point though, look at the very first work of fiction that founded the entire Planetary Romance genre: Edgar Rice Burrough’s A PRINCESS OF MARS. In that, the hero John Carter - a man who’s lived so long he can’t remember much of his past but has never physically aged past 30 - finds himself somehow transported to Mars - Barsoom to the natives - where he has superhuman strength and whose skill with a sword soon wins him rulership of the entire planet.

It’s also important to note that the novel - serialized in magazines like Amazing Stories - is written by a fictional author who claims to have known John Carter since childhood and that this is Carter’s story as delivered to him. Already, we are in a strange metafictional space with a fictional story claiming that it is authentic by using the device of a fictional narrator, who is not the protagonist, from the fictional world delivering the story to real readers.

It is strange, but it serves to transport the reader into the tale as if it actually occurred. It creates a strange relationship between the story and reality - a “weird” relationship for “weird fiction.”

Now, Barsoom is not really like the actual Mars and John Carter’s abilities on the planet defy physics. Just as Superman’s would much later with much the same explanation. So, it is as if John Carter, in the world of the narrator, found a way to transport himself to a fictional Mars.

In my opinion, this fictional Mars is the world that the project’s “fictionauts” visited. And I believe that though he is never named, it is in fact John Carter who was the person that they brought back with them. A swordsman who can defy the laws of physics when he slices them to pieces.

Of all the early pulp predecessors who’ve shown up in Planetary, Carter is the most obvious omission. Tarzan shows up as do Holmes, Dracula and even Frankenstein in some form. Carter, as mentioned, influenced everything from his contemporaries in Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers to Paul Atreides, Luke Skywalker and later James Cameron’s AVATAR. He was one of the most obvious influences on the Golden Age Superman and it’s likely he was an influence on Conan, Elric and pretty much every sword and sorcery hero since then.

Also, another Carter provided a weird counterpoint to the Warlord of Mars. Randolph Carter, created by HP Lovecraft, also had the power to travel to strange lands, and Alan Moore even made him the grandson of John Carter in his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

The fact that John Carter doesn’t appear anywhere else in the series is strange considering how important he was to genre fiction and its history that Planetary deals with. Carter, like Tarzan, was also a much darker hero who followed his own code and would be ruthlessly brutal with anyone who threatened him. The last thing in the world that he wants is to return to Earth even though in later stories, he found the secret to doing that at will. So, the likelihood is that once he determined his captors intentions, he simply went back to his queen and world - the “fiction planet” of Barsoom.


#294

True, and in this one, they make that an explicit point. It reminds me of what one defense attorney who later became a mystery writer said. He said that defending a client is about “unsolving” the mystery. The prosecutor and the police come in with their story basically “solving” the crime. The defender has to blow holes in that and put the mystery back in.

That’s almost exactly the same as Planetary’s mission statement. They are attacking the stories and removing the endings.


#295

Editor: It’s a strange story.
Ellis: Let’s keep it that way.


#296

Before we go any further, a nitpick that always annoys me. The fictionauts are the crew of the ship sent by The Four into the fictional universe. The being brought back by the retrieval is not a fictionaut.


#297

He’s sort of an involuntary fictionaut, but it is like calling an alien abductee an astronaut.


#298

Well, it’s like if we abducted an alien and brought it back to earth and then called it an astronaut.


#299

#300

Decent story, the breakneck pace is quite different.

I like that, like a number of the earlier issues, in answering some questions the reader has (or at least alluding to them “Yes. I noticed that too”) it throws up a load more questions.

I also liked the use of the previous issue in this issue as part of the explanation as to where Ambrose powers came from.

Also another issue with unrepressed powers!


#301

It is a good question in regard to fiction’s relationship to other fiction and to reality.

In TRUE DETECTIVE season 1, The Yellow King and Carcosa figure prominently, but never are Robert Chambers’ novels where the Yellow King originated mentioned. Rust Cole certainly would have found them when investigating the crimes had they existed.

Therefore, does that imply that the show takes place in the same world as Chambers’ stories?


#302

I don’t have much to add to what’s already been said, but I enjoyed this issue despite the lack of conclusiveness. There’s a lot of unresolved teasing here - both in terms of this story, and the overarching plotlines of Planetary - but it’s intriguing and thought-provoking, rather than frustrating.

The monochrome flashback in particular gives us a lot of information that only really makes sense in retrospect. And I particularly like the way Ellis gives us those clues in plain text at the end of the issue, which are true-but-misleading in the finest traditions.

Also noteworthy is that the omnibus (and I’m presuming other reprints) omits the dedication to Grant Morrison on the opening page - which is a bit of a shame, as it adds an extra dimension to all the playing with levels of fiction and reality that take place in this issue.

As for Ambrose, I’m tempted to conclude that some of his action sequences here are heavily Matrix-influenced. The running up walls; the gunplay; the slowing down of time; the hail of bullets frozen in mid-air, ripple effects and all: it all recalls that movie. Given that The Matrix came out in summer 1999 and this issue arrived in spring 2000, it doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch.