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Millarworld book club: Planetary issue 26 - The end!


I can usually hold up omnibus books to read comfortably, although if I’m sitting in a chair occasionally I rest them on a cushion on my lap.

Bigger stuff like the Artist Edition books I tend to have to read either at a table or on a bed.


I finally got around to reading this issue. I have never read, or heard of this series before, so I am going in completely blind. It was dense and incredibly intriguing. The concept here could be as complicated as Warren Ellis wants to make it. He is introducing complex technology, complex theories, and, literally, infinite possibilities. While a concept like that is exciting, it also means that it will be a challenge to tell a concise story without introducing elements that could be abandoned and unresolved throughout the series.

That being said, I am consoled by what you all of you who have read the series are writing because it sounds like Ellis conquers that challenge and succeeds. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this goes.


Shall we move forward to issue #2 or is anyone still waiting to chime in on #1?


My thoughts on #2 would be short and blunt…so I’m game for waiting if anyone else needs more time.


It’s a bloody great comic. Don’t have anything smart to say about it :smiley:


I’m fine with going to #2.
I can always drop a line in here later on can’t I? Or do the mods lock the thread?


No, it’s intended to be a very loose discussion, it’s fine to chime in on whatever you want whenever you want. :slight_smile:


I read this a zillion years ago, and I have a vague feeling of having enjoyed it. So, seeing how dim and distant it all is, this is a great time for a reread.

Ah yes, a century baby who, for some reason, is acting like a hobo. I like the blend of characters in the small (sub-)team, and the Planetary organisation concept as described briefly to us. Oddly, some of the dialogue in the set-up is a bit wonky, while other bits are well-honed. I’d argue that there’s an unnecessary page or two, and even the early flashback has internal exposition, but we’re up and running with mission before half way.

And now I remember being chuffed to find the Philip Jose Farmer-like use of Doc Savage (sorry, Brass), heroicly guarding the portal of doom for decades. There’s a huge chunk of flashback exposition, and then suddenly we just mention the result of fight between a group of semi-powered Wold Newtonesque pulp characters and some seriously potent golden age dc analogues, where the underdogs win. What? How? No, really: how? Those earlier dead pages should have given way for the brawl of the 20th century. Brass’s quantumish computer and the snowflake universe are neat touches.

I believe that a soupcon of additional craft would have made the issue so much better, and I still think having a flashback-heavy episode for the first issue is a little strange - perhaps the meet-up and fight could have been a prologue; we’d still be surprised finding Brass there after fifty-odd years. IDK.

Despite my criticisms, I still enjoyed this opener as a whole, and I would buy the next issue if I was reading it for the first time.

P.S. I know I’m old, but I don’t get the cover’s jaunty, '66 Batman villain’s hideout angle.


OK then.

Planetary #2 - “Island”


Planetary #2 - It Works If We Do It Enough

Honestly, one of the worst issues of the series. Again, I wouldn’t call any issue bad. Ellis’s premises are interesting to think about and Cassaday’s art is just nice all around. But the premise of this particular issue, how it’s handled, and the actual events are all very lackluster.

It doesn’t play around with the concept of giant monster movies than say “Oh. yeah, and this happened too”.
Which is rather shocking given how much credence and love Ellis would show other sides of science-fiction in other issues throughout the series. Possibly a big waste of opportunity.

I wish I could say more…but there is actually nothing to really get into with the issue because there’s no meat to it.


I may have read ahead a bit and prepared some thoughts!

Note that on the cover the logo is in the right place, but has been altered to Katakana. We’re still being eased into the different cover style per issue territory.

This issue references three things from Japanese culture - one ficitonal, two historical.

The fictional one is, of course Kaiju Eiga, or monster movies. Specifically the Godzilla series. Island Zero is a stand-in for Monster Island, and the cultists encounter the remains of Mothra, Gidorah and Godzilla in turn. At the end of the episode the living monster is Rodan (the source of a hilarious homophonic discussion between myself and a tipsy Mrs Lorcan a few weeks back where she thought I was talking about Rodin).

The writer and his acolytes are based on Yukio Mishima and his Tatenokai. Born in 1925 to an offhsoot of a noble family, Mishima was raised primarily by his aristocratic grandmother, who frequently made fatalistic outbursts while his father was obsesed with masculinity. These primary influences on his childhood lead to his own obsessions and also to conduct his early writing in secret, lest his father find his ‘effiminate’ manuscripts and destroy them. As he found his footing as a writer Mishima would begin to become obsessed with sexuality (he was married and had children, but a fellow writer alleged they had a gay relationship, and he cruised gay bars in Tokyo while researching one novel), and physical fitness and bodybuilding.

In 1967 he joined the Self-Defence Force, founding the Tatenokai private militia the following year. The Tatenokai swore loyalty to the notion of the Emperor rather than the individual - Mishima was opposed to Hirohito renouncing his divinity as part of the surrender terms. And then in 1970 he and four members of the Tatenokai took the commandant of the Tokyo Headquarters of the JSDF hostage, and delivered a speech to the soldiers in the base intended to inspire them to stage a coup. This speech was ignored or mocked for the most part, and Mishima and one of his followers committed suicide by seppuku (the individual kneels, slices open their belly and is then beheaded by a designated ‘executioner’ before they show too much pain) thereafter. Ellis also wrote about Mishima in issue 42 of Stormwatch vol. 1.

The sarin gas in the bag is a reference to the Aum Shinryko cult. In 1994 they killed three people with homemade sarin and VX, and the in 1995 they released sarin on three lines of the Tokyo subway, killing 12, injuring 50 and causing temporary vision problems for 5,000.

Arguably, the cult leader’s lines about shriveling of genitals and his cannibalism could be references to Japan’s reputation for weird sex, especially his bit about eating a girlfriend raw in a Tokyo sex club.

The guards who show up are members of The Four’s organisation, as we’ll see in a few issues.

Overall I agree with @Tom_Punk in that there’s very little meat to this issue. But I’ll acknowledge that it’s an awful/hilarious turn of phrase for an issue where a cannibal brings his followers to eat monster corpses. The plot structure here is the same as issue 1’s back half - Pleanetary go to weird thing, and see weird thing. Jakita and Drums know at least a little more than Snow does and fill him on some of the blanks. The deconstruction/reimagining element here feels more like Ellis bursting the baloon on the Kaiju genre - that most of these monsters are one of a kind, and even if you leave aside that they could never exist in reality, they’d all die sooner or later - than analysing or recontextualising like Doc Brass vs the Justice League, or, say the issue about the British Invasion. It’s a very slight issue, and I feel like Ellis especially is still working out exactly what he wants to do with the book.


It’s only issue #2, and most of it is panorama, the sheer size of the mysteries hidden in the world. Sure, we have the story of the Japanese, fascinating. The ‘monsters’ on the island (big island - didn’t look like there was too much chow around, so hungry big monsters). The interaction building between characters - the bit about Jakita jumping a canyon revealed she had powers and her interaction with Elijah showed personality.

Archaeology is not at all Indiana Jones. Most of it is being right down in either mud or dust removing said mud or dust very, very slowly with a small brush. Not my idea of fun. Helicoptering in to see the giant kaiju corpses? Okay, that’s fun!

Exploration, discovery, adventure, great art and writing and one of the most hopeful final panels Ellis ever wrote. Love this issue.


If you watch the kaiju movies, some of them really are hilariously stupid. I recently saw a review of Gappa the Triphibian Monster which is essentially a rip-off of the British movie Gorgo which was in turn a rip off of Godzilla. Basically, some idiots find a baby monster, steal it and plan to put it on display for millions of dollars. However, when the baby’s much larger parents decide they want their child back, rather than simply releasing it, they go through untold destruction trying to fight the monsters off. Then, of course, they release the baby and the monsters go home.

What’s interesting though is how the film reinforces traditional values. Women have to be pretty and even when they are smart, they should aspire to be housewives and leave work to the men.

So, it’s an interesting interpretation that rather than the monsters representing the destructive force of the nuclear powers out of control, they become much more like “plagues” visited upon Japan for not adhering to traditional values. It’s almost an old testament view but with the Japanese as the Hebrews who’ve forgotten their roots.

Also, the idea that eating a radioactive monster would give you superpowers is not entirely out of place in both the Wildstorm universe or in Monster B-Movies.


What about spoilers in this thread? Can we talk about what happens in later issues?

edit: I see some are reading this for the first time so I’ll refrain from spoiling stuff that happens later on.


I say we put stuff in spoilers for spoilers.

And really try to take each issue as each issue.


I think the biggest mystery I had was
Why wouldn’t the Soldiers on the Island hide or dispose of the remains of these creatures to avoid detection?

Seemed a simpler plan than killing/imprisoning those who come to the Island!


Yup that’s the best approach, some are reading for the first time so if you need to allude to events down the line hide them behind spoiler tags.


I agree that this is one of the weakest of the run.

That said, I like what it did in playing with size and scale; that can be lost in comics too often, and Cassady really never lets the majesty of these things get lost.

There’s something there about the gross, monstrosity of the human coming with his invention (his religion), how on an island of ‘monsters’ the only real monster is the man, and the creatures (at the end) are presented as glorious and beautiful and wonderful.

That’s the underlying theme of the whole thing, really. All the villains, all the heroes, all the wonder. It’s ‘just us’.


It’s never clear if they are there to study the creatures as well, but it’s probably a budgetary issues.

Besides, they might just be afraid to touch the damn things or mess with them too much since they really have no idea what they are dealing with.


I agree that this issue is a bit thin, but I think it functions pretty well as a basic template for how the book will work now that all the introductory gubbins has been got rid of in issue #1.

The plot is very straightforward and I think the choice of subject matter is a good one: everyone is familiar to some extent with Godzilla, so everyone will ‘get’ what the issue is referring to (especially compared to some of the more esoteric choices of later issues).

It’s also a good way of emphasising the global reach of Planetary, and of demonstrating that the book’s scope is going to extend beyond the comicbook superheroes and pulp heroes that we saw in issue #1.

There are a couple of moments that I feel stand out as a bit ‘off’ at this point: Jakita’s observation of Snow’s powers and the explanation of the Drummer’s abilities both feel a bit on-the-nose and shorthand, and it feels odd that these are the first times they’re being conveyed to Snow. Also, Snow’s response regarding how long he has known Japanese inserts a bit of ambiguity regarding how much he remembers of his past.

Cassaday’s art really elevates the issue for me though. The creature remains are a brilliant mix of being astonishing, repulsive and huge in scale, and the visuals provide pretty much all of the sense of wonder of this issue.

Also, the cover is pretty great - so arresting that after rereading this issue on Friday night and then having a couple of glasses of wine, I had a disturbed night’s sleep that included a vivid dream in which I was chased by giant bloodthirsty dinosaur skeletons running from an erupting volcano. So thanks for that, Planetary #2.