You may be thinking “Oh, look; another crossover where the good guys fight, figure it out and save the day.” I wouldn’t blame you. I had anticipated the same when I sat down to read this 2003 one-shot from DC Comics and Wildstorm Productions. Boy, was I wrong as this was definitely not your cookie-cutter team-up tale. Far from it.
While almost anyone reading comics has read Batman (or, at the very least, is familiar with the Caped Crusader), the same can’t be said for Planetary. With that, I can confidently state that my lack of exposure to the Planetary series and its characters didn’t hamper my reading experience at all. I’d actually argue that this is primarily a Batman-centric story; even though various members of Planetary get more “screen time” than Bats himself.
Which brings me to the creators. Warren Ellis is, well, Warren Ellis. If you don’t know what that means, you haven’t read much of his work. But if you have? You’re nodding along with me right now. Indefinable, he almost always seems to approach a story from a completely different angle than most of us can even conceive, and that’s part of what makes him a fan favorite.
His handling of Batman here is both exciting and (seemingly) an open love letter to the character. There’s barely a beginning or end to this original graphic novel, and frankly, it doesn’t need it.
As much as I’d love to go on and on about how amazing Ellis is, I’ve got to switch lanes and gush about artist John Cassaday. To my recollection, Cassaday was one of the first artists to bring that cinematic “widescreen” flair to his work, and this is one of the reasons he’s so popular. How he depicts Gotham City and Batman from different eras is a sight to behold. Ensure you pay attention to the surroundings in the panels as well; there are quite a few easter eggs to find.
This is easily one of those “Wish I had read it then!” types of finds; one that’s short and sweet (it took me longer to write this than read that) but will stay with you for a long while. You might even look at Batman a little differently when you’re through. Regardless whether you’ve read this before or are diving in for the first time, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Happy reading!