One Shot 5: Planetary #10

Twenty-two pages fills up fast.  There’s no denying that.  Action sequences often eat up huge chunks of a book, and you can only fit so much dialogue on the page before it becomes cluttered, not to mention how much of the probably excellent art you’ll be covering up by doing so.  So, understandably, most writers will have their stories run in arcs, often using well over 100 pages to let it unfold.  It’s not hard to see why, but the tendency to keep expanding the story is part of what makes it so rewarding when you come across a single issue that manages to not only exemplify what it is you so love about that particular book, or even comics in general, but that manages to do so with an impressive economy of storytelling.  One Shot is meant to take a close look at why those issues work as well as they do, the way they do.

Continue reading

Captain America: Reborn #2

 

Writing: Brubaker produces another well-written Captain America issue. Everything is technically good. However, if you have more than a passing knowledge of Captain America, you probably won’t get much out of this issue. Either you already knew it or, if you’ve been reading Brubaker’s run up to this point, you saw it coming.

Art: What we can appreciate in Brubaker’s writing, is that he let his art team strut their stuff. I didn’t review the last issue, but, if I had, I would’ve criticized the art. Either Hitch and Guice were rushed, or maybe they just didn’t work well together. Whatever it was, it’s been fixed. This issue’s art is a massive improvement over the opening chapter’s. This looks like the Hitch that many people fell in love with during The Ultimates or The Authority.

Final Word: Marvel is marketing this comic as some sort of event. It’s not. Captain America: Reborn’s counterpart is Geoff John’s Green Lantern: Secret Origin. Both are retelling a classic character’s origin story with a twist, and both are forwarding the ongoing epic being told in their respective monthlies. The only difference is that unlike Secret Origin, Reborn is being told in a mini. That’s a smart move. Though you may already know a lot of the details, this comic makes up for it with its art, and the hint of something grand.

Grade: B+

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Irredeemable #2

Irredeemable #2

(****)

Those who complained about the first issue having “too much action” and “not enough substance,” should be much happier with Irredeemable’s second issue, an issue that has almost no action and is all about substance. It’s only natural that a book supposedly all about Internet insults has already gotten quite a few. Really, why would you ever complain about lack of substance or too much action in an ongoing series’ first issue? Well, Mark Waid, determined to quickly deflect the Internet’s barrage, is already getting the Plutonian’s Superman connection out of the way. This issue pokes fun at the Clark Kent/Lois Lane/Superman love triangle. It’s very wise of Waid to get this stuff out of the way, quick.

Unfortunately, that means that Irredeemable still seems to be about “Superman Gone Bad,” but even if that’s all it is, what’s so bad about that? Waid loves Superman. He’s presenting Superman stories that only exist in the “What Should Have Been” file. I’ve wanted to see Superman tales like this. They’re about realistic consequences of fictional mistakes. Waid’s writing is flawless. He handles every character and situation with professional ease. Everything is executed perfectly.

Peter Krause continues to handle the art chores well. The bright, optimistic view of the past and the dark, apocalyptic view of the future both continue to add a nice touch to the book. Krause also renders the characters and storytelling wonderfully. Last issue was all about action and this issue was all about emotion. Krause hasn’t missed an artistic beat.

Though Waid’s still setting things up, I’m already excited about this book. The big twist at the end involves a character introduced in this very issue, and yet the impact is still powerful. Though not as heart-pounding as last issue, the second issue still manages to give you your money’s worth, and then some.

For more comic goodness, go here.

Bruce Castle Presents: F-Bombs In Comics? No!

Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse #1 (****)

I was wondering what that “Mature Content” thing was about. There’s an F-word word in here. Is it just me, or is that pretty unusual for a Marvel book? Not a MAX book or an Icon book, but a regular Marvel book, that isn’t something you see often, is it? It’s not even that necessary. So, why did they put that in? Or if it’ll be imperative later, why isn’t it a MAX book or something? Oh well, I still love this stuff and I’m happy it got another series. No, I haven’t read the original Anita Blake books. Why would I want to read something without pictures? Especially if those pictures are provided by the talented Ron Lim (or Bret Booth on the first series), are you crazy? This stuff is thoroughly entertaining. Although I do have another complaint, why is this book 4 bucks? It has the usual 22 pages, so why do I have to spend an extra dollar? Boo Marvel!

Boys #23 (Cover B - Casaday)

Boys #23 (****1/2)

So, we’re done with the heavy political arc. What does Ennis have for us now? Comedy! Oh, and story too. Romance! Gruesome death! Sex in a public restroom! And did I mention the laughs?! I love this series! Ennis and Robertson are at the top of their game here. The series keeps getting better and better. I know that’s hard to believe because last arc was so awesome, but this has a good chance. Big stuff is supposed to happen soon, which explains the cool Cassaday variant. Seriously folks, you will laugh out loud when you read this issue!

Series Review: Planetary #9

Welcome to another installment of Billy & Mandy’s series review of Planetary, the best book you’ve never read about super hero books! We’ll be reviewing each and every issue, beginning with #1 and plowing all the way through to #27, whenever the hell that bastard ships. If you’re just joining us, it’s not too late to get on the ground floor. You can find the previous installmenst here.

WARNING: SPOILERS!!! If you don’t want to be spoiled, please read the issue before continuing. Or, read it along with us! We welcome your comments and hope that you enjoy ours.

Mandy: This is a flashback story. We’re in 1997. There’s another third man, Ambrose Chase… I recognize this name? Is there a reason for that? Alright, so the mystery of the week is the return of a vessel from Planet Fiction. The only survivor? The Fictional Man!

Billy: So, thoughts on Ambrose Chase.

Mandy: Tell me first. Have we heard that name before?

Billy: I don’t know. I’ve read this series too many times to know with any certainty.

Mandy: Blah. You’re no help.

Billy: So, Ambrose is the sexy? Sexier than Doc Brass for you?

Mandy: Nothing can replace the sex that is Brass but, Ambrose is alright.

Billy: He goes all “bullet time”, bending reality and shit. That’s pretty sexy.

Mandy: He goes all “Matrix” there for a second. What’s the deal with that?

Billy: We’ll get to that, but first, I want to make the point that this issue, more so than maybe any other issue in the series, is totally obsessed with the meta of itself. What did you think of that?

Mandy: I know!!! There was a lot of stuff going on in there and like I told you earlier, I’m a little confused. It’s just so much!

Billy: What parts confused you? Issue #9 is one of those simple, yet surprisingly dense stories.

Mandy: No. I think that’s why. I think that possibly I was confused by its simplicity. But also, I don’t know enough about comics to get all the meta-ness of it.

Billy: Okay, let me try to explain as best as I can. One of the ideas that Ellis is expressing here is the ultimately unfulfilling nature of work-for-hire… I think. Like, contract writers/artists for The Big Two, Marvel and DC, often seek 4-color immortality through the creation of works that are not their own, right? This is why some creators stay on books like X-Men or Superman for years, gaining fame and fortune in the relatively tiny community that is comics. But, most of these same creators never actually create anything original. No original characters they own and no original books where they retain the copyright. They mostly just rehash old stories and perform surgical, as well as disastrous, retcons. And, when their run is finished, the next guy to come onto the book will usually cast aside any and all changes the previous creative team made and then proceed to make their own changes that will inevitably be reversed by another creative team. So, Ellis obviously feels writing someone else’s ideas is a foolish and, in Planetary, an ultimately deadly endeavor. For example, the “firing” of the creative team behind “Planet Fiction”.

Mandy: Yeah, I can see that. It’s better to work on your own stuff, because no matter what at least your editor won’t kill you.

Billy: At least, that’s what I got from my 20th reading of this comic. I tried to do research on this issue, to look up other people’s reviews and I soon realized that there is a dearth of reviews for this series on the net. Weird.

Mandy: It doesn’t really pre-date the internet. So, that kind of doesn’t make sense.

Billy: The later issues are around, like 25 and 26, but past that it’s the badlands, man. It probably has something to do with the perpetual lateness of the book. People just get tired of waiting.

Mandy: Like these Series Reviews?

Billy: Exactly.

Mandy: Moving On? Good. Dude! There’s a secret government program that designed and then created its own fictional universe! Which, is weird, since if it exists, is it really fictional? Which, I guess is the point, right?

Billy: Yeah, because it’s not a fictional world. It’s a brand new ecosystem and I guess you could say they just happen to base it on comic books. It could have been based on movies or literature or myths or whatever.

Mandy: Yeah, that is pretty sick. I want to move there.

Billy: Which is something Grant Morrison (the guy this is dedicated to) has dabbled with on more than one occasion: The Invisibles, The Filth, etc… this is also where the “bullet time” thing comes back. Ambrose is conceptually one of Morrison’s characters that Ellis is using here. It’s a character that predates “The Matrix”, so if there are any similarities, it’s not because those ideas were stolen from that movie. Oh, what’s also interesting is that I don’t think there exists another such dedication in the rest of the series… but I could be wrong.

Mandy: Cool. Also, I just love the name: “Planet Fiction”

Billy: It’s a really cool concept and the name sounds epic in its campyness.

Mandy: I really like Planetary but I feel like I’m going to have to read it ten more times.

Billy: Yean; you do have to read it all at least twice. Maybe, three times.

Mandy: Billy. I don’t have the time!

Billy: As long as I’m on the subject of allusions, the farmhouse in the beginning of the book, the one with the spaceship in it? I think it’s obvious that the similarity to the origin story of Superman is intentional. Also, the spaceship itself could be a reference to the original Legion of Superheroes.

Mandy: I got the Superman reference, but not the Legion of Superguys one. Who are they?

Billy: Heh, it doesn’t matter. Okay, let’s move. What was your favorite part? Mine was when Jakita opens the door and is like, “Oh SHI-”

Billy: Definitely had that “Star Wars” feel, that scene where Han Solo rounds the corner on the Death Star only to come face to face with a gaggle of Storm Troopers.

Mandy: Yeah, that was awesome. I’m not surprised. You love her. She is always your favorite.

Billy: Wait, actually, all the Jakita action stuff was cool this time! And every time!

Billy: What was your favorite part?

Mandy: Chase is so bad ass. I love when he tells Drums, “Keep your head down. Things are gonna get ugly.”

Mandy: And like, Jakita in the last panel with the one tear but she’s still all business.

Billy: “We’ll dig you up and work it all out in a couple of years.” Too awesome.

Mandy: For sure.

Billy: So, the creepy head scientist guy reveals that this project is actually headed by Dowling. Man, that guy is into everything.

Mandy: Yeah, he’s a badass extraordinaire.

Billy: By the way, “Fictionaut” is the coolest made up word of all-time.

Mandy: and I agree with you. FICTIONAUT. Good word.

Billy: And what happened to Ambrose? HE disappeared, but we didn’t see him die.

Mandy: Yeah, so where did he go? Do we ever find out?

Billy: I don’t know. There’s only one issue left, #27, and we still haven’t heard from his reality warping ass.

Mandy: Wait, WHAT?

Billy: I assume that the final issue will deal with Ambrose Chase and maybe the dude from Planet Fiction. I hope. I also hope that the lame Anna Mercury series Ellis is writing right now isn’t actually the manifestation of the Fictionaut idea that we’ve been waiting on since #9. That would be beyond suck.

Mandy: What’s Anna Mercury?

Billy: It’s a book about a secret government program that sends real people into fictional worlds.

Mandy: …HAHAHAHA!

Billy: Anyway… at the end of the book we are presented with a number of questions, probably because Ellis knew how confusing the entire series has been up to this point and that we as the audience needed something to latch onto, and the most important question has to be “Who is the fourth man?” So, who do you think it is? Or have we not even met this person yet? Could it be Anna Hark? Running things from the shadows?

Mandy: Dude, if it is, I will die. I love her hot ass.

Billy: Your love for her is disturbing.

Mandy: Um, Jakita much?

Billy: Oh, maybe it’s Dowling himself! Maybe he’s not as evil as we are led to believe? Maybe he’s trying to take down the Four without them catching on? Makes sense that Planetary would find the Planet Fiction program if Dowling was the one to give up the info. Not to mention facilitating their access to Island Zero, Four Voyagers Plaza, etc…

Mandy: Dude, if it’s Dowling himself, it just compounds the confusion of trying to figure out who the good guys are. I never trusted Planetary. Not in the beginning anyway.

Billy: Obviously, I’m full of shit because I do know.

Mandy: Then who is it?

Billy: Not telling! Well, maybe I’ll just drop a picture hint below…

Join us next time when Planetary fails to discover the secret origins of the heroes that never were! If you haven’t read Planetary, you can pick up the trades at your local shop or order them online from Amazon.com at the following link:

Planetary Vol. 1: All Over the World and Other Stories

Planetary Vol. 2: The Fourth Man

Series Review: Planetary #8

Welcome to another installment of Billy & Mandy’s weekly series review of Planetary, the best book you’ve never read about the super hero genre! We’ll be reviewing each and every issue, beginning with #1 and plowing all the way through to #27, whenever the hell that bastard ships. If you’re just joining us, it’s not too late to get on the ground floor. You can find the previous installment here.

WARNING: SPOILERS!!! If you don’t want to be spoiled, please read the issue before continuing. Or, read it along with us! We welcome your comments and hope that you enjoy ours.

Mandy: Wait one second. Phone… okay, let’s go.

Billy: It’s so great to have you back this week!

Mandy: Hah. I know you missed me. Because I’m irreplaceable.

Billy: I mean, MANDEE-BOT did an okay job.

Mandy: Yeah, yeah. Whatever.

Billy: Speaking of last week’s article, what did you think of issue 7?

Mandy: UGG. I DIDN’T REREAD IT. DO I HAVE TO SAY INTELLIGENT THINGS?

Billy: Um, guess not. Give us a quick recap of #8…

Mandy: So in Issue 8, we find out the real reason behind all those Sci-Fi B-movies of the fifties and sixties, obviously a by-product of the government experimentation to test the limits of the human body. Oh Americans. Your ignorance has a flavor. I mean arrogance.

Billy: Ignorance was funnier.

Mandy: Because my ignorance has a flavor.

Billy: Tastes like burning. So, Planetary shows up in the middle of the desert at a city that isn’t on any maps to meet a girl that glows in the dark? WTF?

Mandy: Dream date, right?

Billy: Okay. Before we get into the dense exposition that this issue provides, I want to talk about my girlfriend Jakita. HOW HAWT IS SHE?

Mandy: SHE PUNCHED THAT ANT IN THE HEAD.

Billy: I KNOW! She ripped its leg off!

Mandy: I know. She really is that awesome… like from birth.

Billy: And she was all GETTING OFF ON IT!!!

Mandy: SHE WAS LIKE, “FLAT TIRE THIS, BITCH.”

Billy: YAUS!

Mandy: I mean, honestly. Dude, she swept the leg. I just rewatched Karate Kid the other day. How is that movie so awesome?

Billy: I don’t know. Seems impossible.

Mandy: I know that is your way of saying that movie is terrible and I am an idiot but I reject you. FYI.

Billy: Back to my fictional girlfriend: The full page spread of her leaping up at the three ants is in my Top 5 Planetary moments, btw.

Mandy: I’m sure it is. How sticky is your copy?

Billy: Okay, so Jakita is the supermans and stuff, but what about US Science City Zero? Once the glowy chick starts explaining about it, you kind of feel bad for feeling so good about Jakita’s asskicking. Like, total boner killer.

Mandy: Right. Because OBV, A PRODUCT OF GOVERNMENT MANIPULATION?

Billy: Dude, “women who slept with the wrong men…” Lucky you, huh?

Mandy: I KNOOOOOOOW! Wait, wow.

Billy: HAHAHAH.

Mandy: I would say “low blow” but you’ll turn that around on me too.

Billy: Dowling… did you expect Dowling? OBV Dowling at this point, right? Of course this guy is responsible for all the evil shit in the world.

Mandy: Yeah, that guy’s fingerprints are all up in the trainwrecks. Disaster is his calling card. That and dashing good looks.

Billy: That sounds like something MANDEE-BOT would say.

Mandy: Agreeance.

Billy: I like that he isn’t a Nazi. We Americans like to blame the Nazis for everything, but Ellis doesn’t let us get away with that here. “I just killed you and brought you back. Can you understand me?” What a dick.

Mandy: Yeah. I liked that though.

Billy: Yeah, it’s an appropriate question. She might have brain damage. You gotta check.

Mandy: Dude, she sort of got lucky. I mean, yeah, she got shot. That’s no fun…but she could have been turned into giant-assed marshmallow chick whose flesh is all…soft.

Billy: Ann Hark is still looking sexy as well, but now she’s all tainted by evil. Sad times, or, sexy times?

Mandy: EW. Yeah, um. You can have Jakita. Ann Hark is my Planetary series girl crush. Because of her hotness. The hot Asianness.

Billy: Dude, what is Dowling holding in the panel where he says she has a radioactive half-life of 50 years? I like to think it’s some gizmo from another experiment, as if he’s already moved on to something else. Glowy chick is a total afterthought.

Mandy: YES. Makes it even more pathetic.

Billy: I like how they explain the issue of going blind while invisible. It sets up how Ellis uses Kim Suskind, the Invisible woman later.
INVISIBLE MAN

Billy: ATOMIC DOGS! When I read that I could hear George Clinton in my head.

Mandy: OH MAN. I’m so glad you brought that up. Finally AN EXPLANATION FOR THAT AWFUL SONG. Blame America.

Mandy: DUDE. Amy Winehouse has crack-induced emphysema.

Billy: Bad beat for her, but what the hell does that have to do with George Clinton?

Mandy: Man. The crack. It kills.

Billy: Snowflake head was pretty cool too. I think more than half the reason Planetary is so balls good is because John Cassaday draws the SHIT out of it. A lesser artist and we may not even being doing these.

Mandy: Snowflake head made me sad. And he’s drooling on himself. And the overbite girl. I want to hug them all, and then take a shower.

Billy: What do you think of the line “…it was about seeing what they could get away with doing to us” as an explanation for City Zero’s existence?

Mandy: I think this speaks to the idea why the intelligentsia CAN NOT rule the weak. This is why humans cannot be trusted. No motive is pure. It isn’t about testing the limits of the human body, right? It’s about testing the limits of humans. THEY WON’T TELL US TO STOP.

Billy: Yeah, even when it’s implied that Hark wasn’t totally on board with his methods, it doesn’t change the fact that she is culpable.

Mandy: Yes. As a race, we will stand by and allow things to happen. I thought that was the most interesting line. I’m glad it was there because it made the most sense.

Billy: Going further, we know the Russians had these types of science cities and we know the Nazis and Japanese experimented on people… and although some like to deny it, we know that American doctors experimented on African Americans in the last century. So, question: Should it be obvious to anyone thinking with a logical mind that Americans probably had these types of science cities as well? We kind of have to come to this conclusion, right? Especially since after the War we employed so many ex-Nazis. Even if we weren’t before the war, we had to be after it, right?

Mandy: I have to be honest. It’s too horrifying to think about. 😦

Billy: Yeah, it is scary. Obviously, this is taking it to the extreme, it’s Science Fiction… not trying to say the US created a 60 foot woman or anything.

Mandy: I KNOW THAT. Silly.

Billy: Oh yeah, something else. US Science City Zero was what Dowling was doing before he got turned into Mr. Fantastic. That’s interesting. He’s been a bastard since the beginning.

Mandy: I know. Definitely not all that “fantastic”. TO BE QUITE HONEST.

Billy: Marvel Mr. Fantastic – it’s funny, but realistically, even Marvel’s Mr. Fantastic had to be involved in shit like this before getting into that experimental rocket in 1961 with Sue, Ben and Johnny. That’s why I love Planetary. It forces you to look at all these pulp characters in a whole new light, a whole new perspective. Distorting what we perceive to be reality and revealing the actual truth.

Mandy: Yes. And the more background we get, the more I question my distrust of Planetary. o yeah, it’s definitely keeping me interested. I can’t wait to get into issue 9.

Billy: This is another one of those plot threads that will keep coming up. Like at the end, how she hands it over to Planetary to go through the records. The discovery of City Zero is a big find for Planetary. Almost as big as Island Zero or Doc Brass’ base in the Appalachian mountains.

Mandy: I’m so glad that the Bot didn’t steal my job.

Billy: Well, we still got 20 issues to go… hey, the sad ending? Did it make you cry?

Mandy: Yes. Snow is a woobie. I hurt for him. And I’m still anxious to figure out where he was all that time…and what was he doing? And why doesn’t he remember his life?

Billy: Yeah, where the HELL was Snow to stop all this shit?!

Billy: I think Ellis is a master of the “closing line.”

Billy: “It as only half a life, but I wanted it” and “I’m so glad I met you.”

Mandy: Yeah. I’m actually surprised you like that he always does that.

Billy: I LOVE IT! Why wouldn’t I? It’s one of the best parts of the book.

Mandy: Well I think that. But you’re usually so against the melodramatic lines that like SUM UP A STORY.

Billy: But it’s not melodramatic and I’ll tell you why.

Mandy: Tell me.

Billy: Okay, if you have noticed, most issues of Planetary, except when they are expositioning, are actually quite sparse when it comes to dialogue. Characters barely say shit about shit, and even when they do it’s only to make a point that’s usually one sentence long. The sum up, like you say.

Mandy: Yes. Fair enough.

Billy: Melodrama is when the writer completely belabors the characterization and DRAMA of it all!

Mandy: I can already see where you’re going with this…

Billy: Nothing in Planetary screams of melodrama, not in the least, and that’s why it’s okay to have those kind of “to sum it all up” lines.

Mandy: Yes. I agree with you. FINE.

Billy: And furthermore, even when he’s summing it all up it’s usually the most subtle or subtexty line in the entire book.

Mandy: FINE. You win.

Billy: The “I’m so glad I met you” line has10 different ideas in it!

Mandy: I KNOW.

Billy: HAHAHAH… dude, how does this issue compare to the previous 7 for you?

Mandy: I think this one might have been my favorite? Because it was so straightforward.

Billy: Yeah, that is a fair assessment. I think it was my favorite of the first 8 as well. But dude, issue 9? THE BEST ISSUE OF PLANETARY EVER!

Mandy: I cannot wait.

Billy: Like, we could talk about that one issue for hours and still only scratch the surface. It has the most re-read value of the entire run.

Mandy: YOU KNOW WHAT I WILL DO WHILE I WAIT FOR IT? I will have INSTANT SHIA. HOT AND YUMMY. JUST ADD WATER.

Mandy: COME ON. THERE WAS A JOKE AND EVERYTHING.

Billy: Dude, you let me know when this gets old… so we can stop.

Mandy: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Join us next Monday for the most exciting, explosive and mysterious chapter of Planetary yet. If you haven’t read Planetary, you can pick up the trades at your local shop or order them online from Amazon.com at the following link:

Planetary Vol. 1: All Over the World and Other Stories

Planetary Vol. 2: The Fourth Man

Series Review: Planetary #7

Welcome to another installment of Billy & Mandy’s weekly series review of Planetary, the best book you’ve never read about the super hero genre! We’ll be reviewing each and every issue, beginning with #1 and plowing all the way through to #27, whenever the hell that bastard ships. If you’re just joining us, it’s not too late to get on the ground floor. You can find the previous installment here.

WARNING: SPOILERS!!! If you don’t want to be spoiled, please read the issue before continuing. Or, read it along with us! We welcome your comments and hope that you enjoy ours.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unfortunately, Mandy couldn’t be with us today. She decided to be self-involved all last week with school, work, lame TV shows, boys… but, that doesn’t mean I’ll be flying solo. Joining me for this week’s episode is the fabulously fantastical MANDEE-BOT 2800. What the hell is a MANDEE-BOT 2800? The latest in science fiction made fact, is what the hell it is!

Billy: Hey MANDEE-BOT 2800, welcome to the Planetary Series Review!

MANDEE-BOT 2800: EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON.

Billy: Want to do a quick recap of this week’s issue for the audience?

MANDEE-BOT 2800: GET LOST.

Billy: Riiiight… okay, I guess it’s up to me.

Billy: This issue opens with a dreadful phone call. Jack Carter is dead. Jakita is sad. But, why?

MANDEE-BOT 2800: LOVE IS IMMORTAL

Billy: Jakita must really like London, aye?

MANDEE-BOT 2800: IT’S NOTHING LIKE WHERE YOU LIVE. AND NOTHING LIKE WHAT YOU IMAGINE.

Billy: Yeah… Jakita convinces the crew to head off to London for her old boyfriend Jack Carter’s funeral.

Billy: But still, who is Jack Carter?

MANDEE-BOT 2800: LIVE FAST. DIE NEVER.

Billy: FYI, Jack Carter equals John Constantine… with black hair.

Billy: I love how homeless Death and her brother look.

MANDEE-BOT 2800: IT’S WHERE ALL THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE LIVE.

Billy: If you hadn’t quite figure it out by the cover, this issue of Planetary concerns itself with the long and muddled publishing history of a well-known DC imprint: Vertigo.

MANDEE-BOT 2800: WHAT IS IT ABOUT DANGEROUS WOMEN?

Billy: I don’t know, I wasn’t in England during her “reign”, but from what I’ve studied, this sounds about right? What do you think MB?

MANDEE-BOT 2800: IN EVERY GENERATION, THERE IS A CHOSEN ONE. SHE ALONE SHALL STAND AGAINST THE VAMPIRES, DEMONS, AND FORCES OF DARKNESS.

Billy: Meh, I don’t think Planetary looks silly yet, and it’s been more than 10 years since the first issue. Not to say Ellis isn’t right. Some of the Vertigo concepts are pretty lame by today’s standards, but in this issue for instance, I think some of that is exacerbated by Cassaday’s purposely silly take on these characters.

MANDEE-BOT 2800: A LOOK AT FIVE FAMILIES LIVING IN A PROTECTED SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ENCLAVE, AND THE REAL-LIFE HOUSEWIVES WHO RESIDE IN ONE OF THE WEALTHIEST PLANNED COMMUNITIES IN THE COUNTRY.

Billy: Well, not to be totally derisive, Ellis has Jakita come to their rescue. She says, “England was a scary place. No wonder it produced a scary culture.” Fair. Kind of like the US today… oh, politics! Really though, I feel like you kind of can’t even talk about Planetary without talking about politics—

MANDEE-BOT 2800: ALL OF THEM HAVE A SECRET. ALL OF THEM ARE LOST.

Billy: Right! Anyway, next, Jakita tells us one of her creepiest stories about Jack Carter from the 80’s. About a time Jack saw a man that wasn’t there…

Billy: So, Jack strikes up a conversation with the “spook” and discovers that he’s no ghost at all. The invisible man explains that he’s this year’s metaphorical “Herod”, the guy from the bible that ordered all the babies killed in an attempt to kill Jesus. Herod tells Jack he’s off to kill some unborn that might be the second coming. Anyway, Jack’s heard enough.

Billy: Bam, just like that, Jack Carter curses the poor bastard.

MANDEE-BOT 2800: THE TRUTH WILL BE REVEALED.

Billy: MB, is there something wrong with your speech transcription software?

MANDEE-BOT 2800: THEY’RE NOT THE SURVIVORS THEY THINK THEY ARE.

Billy: Jakita, Snow and Drummer want to check out where Carter died… and lo and behold, Drummer smells the magic! The cheat codes for the world! I like that metaphor.

Billy: Drummer hacks the world and they discover that Jack Carter has faked his own death. That bastard! But who “fake” killed him?

MANDEE-BOT 2800: GET HOME BEFORE DARK.

MANDEE-BOT 2800: ON THIS ISLAND, SURVIVAL IS NOT A GAME.

Billy: Shit is getting way to meta right here! Self-reflexive reflections doubling back on themselves! My brain asplode! Like this guy’s guts…

Billy: Confused?

MANDEE-BOT 2800: WHERE NOTHING EVER CHANGED UNTIL ONE OUTSIDER CHANGED EVERYTHING.

Billy: Don’t be. Jack Carter faked his death in order to go underground. Okay, you can be confused now. Wait, I’ll let “Jack” explain it himself:

Billy: Wait a sec, isn’t that Spider Jerusalem?

MANDEE-BOT 2800: THE WAIT IS OVER.

Billy: Wow, way to rewrite continuity. See, I liked how this issue started out as a comment on pop culture from the 80’s to the 90’s… but I hate how it ended. Ellis, you self-serving bastard. Although the writing is superb, it’s probably my least favorite of any issue in this series. So, in the Planetary corner of the Multiverse, John Constantine and Spider Jerusalem are the same person. I guess that works for John as it only adds to his coolness, unfortunately, it has the exact opposite affect on Spider. UGH. What did you think MB?

MANDEE-BOT 2800: SHIA—

Billy: Shut it, MANDEE-BOT 2800!

Join us next Monday when Ellis and Cassaday take us on a trip through the seedy underbelly of the Cold War. If you haven’t read Planetary, you can pick up the trades at your local shop or order them online from Amazon.com at the following link:

Planetary Vol. 1: All Over the World and Other Stories

Planetary Vol. 2: The Fourth Man

Foilball’s Review Roundup #25

Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1 (*****)

I loved this book. Shit, everyone did. I’m so late with the review on this one that I’m not even going to bother with it. I just wanted to put it up at the top so that everyone would know how much I love this book. 2nd greatest X-Men run of all-time… and that’s only because Whedon built so much of his structure on the foundation that Grant Morrison laid. Yes, eat a dick Morrison haters… this run could not exist without Morrison’s run! HAH!

Avengers The Initiative #13 (****)

Better than Dan Slott’s run? Maybe! Gage just shines here. This bunch of lovable losers is even more lovable than the last. And more losery. Butterball is my favorite new character of the last year. He’s like the ultimate fanboy. I love Yellowjacket’s expression when Butterball asks him about Captain America. And then Prodigy’s coughing comment is laugh out loud funny. I even liked the 5-6 pages with Taskmaster explaining why Butterball was a washout from start to finish. This is great character writing, the kind of writing most writers don’t bother with anymore. Even guys like Bendis, who used to be so good at this type of stuff. Even though they send Butterball home in the end, I hope this isn’t the last we’ll see of him.

Robin #174 (****)

AndStephanie’s back. BOOYA! I think I’m happy about this, but I don’t feel happy. Batman, obviously knew all along (oh, then why the HELL didn’t he go look for her?) so his response was pretty blasé. But Tim, his awkwardness was pitch perfect. They’re doing a Robin/Spoiler special to explain all this shit and show how Tim’s dead ex coming back from the dead will affect him. I just hope Tim acts realistically in it. If I was Tim, I’d totally go off on this chick. How the hell could she live with herself? Fooling her mom and Tim, making them think she was dead all these years. UGH. The way this was handled kind of makes me hate Stephanie, but only a little.

Superman/Batman #48 (***1/2)

I’ve really been enjoying this run. Call me lame, but I also really like the character design for “All America Boy”. It’s Doomsday but with Kryptonite for bones and blood. Awesome. Why didn’t Dan Jurgens think of that? Chirst, but what an unfortunate name he’s got, right? But, aside from that bit of jank, the “K” arc has been good. Two issues to go till #50… are they canceling this book? Hope not, it’s just starting to get good again.

Quick Hits:
Batman and the Outsiders #7 (***): This issue left me empty. Nothing much happened in regards to the plot… it felt like a flimsy continuation of the last issue. More filler than forward momentum.
Green Lantern #31 (*****): WOW. That’s it. That’s the only way I can describe how much I love this book. So, this arc is around six issues in length? For me, that’s not long enough. I want more old school Lantern good times.
King-Size Hulk #1 (***1/2): Surprisingly good, I think. The Art Adams and Frank Cho art was killer and I didn’t even mind the Loeb stuff that much. Maybe that’s because there was actual WRITING in this book, unlike the main Hulk series. The retelling of the Abomination origin was also cool… hmm, wonder why they felt the need to include that one? Maybe it’s because Hulk Red is actually–
Justice League of America #21 (***): SIGHTINGS! Well, this is the book that explains how Manhunter met his end in Final Crisis #1. I don’t get it, this came out before FC#1, yet everyone was bitching about how there was no lead up to his death outside of FC. I guess there really isn’t anyone reading this book but me. HAH. Anyway, McDuffie seems to be repeating himself. The “secret chamber” thing reminded me of an episode of JLU. Did the Big Three seem out of character to anyone else?
Wolverine Origins #25 (**): Let Down. I was totally on board for this arc when it was just about Deadpool and Wolverine duking it out. Now, Way tries to make it about Daken? FUCK YOU. Wolverine’s explanations about his master plan left the story limp. Have I mentioned how much I HATE Daken? Seriously, does anyone like him? Stupid mohawk… and Bucky as Winter Soldier!?! How far behind is this book?
• X-Men: Legacy #212 (***): Professor X as detective with Gambit riding shotgun? Okay, I’ll bite for now. I’m kind of sick of Gambit, but maybe Carey is finally the one to make him cool again. I love plot twist toward the “Sinister” …too bad he died at the end of Messiah Complex, or, did he?
• Young Avengers Presents: Stature #5 (*): Very weak when compared with the rest of the series.

Series Review: Planetary #6

Welcome to another installment of Billy & Mandy’s weekly series review of Planetary, the best book you’ve never read about the super hero genre! We’ll be reviewing each and every issue, beginning with #1 and plowing all the way through to #27, whenever the hell that bastard ships. If you’re just joining us, it’s not too late to get on the ground floor. You can find the previous installment here.

WARNING: SPOILERS!!! If you don’t want to be spoiled, please read the issue before continuing. Or, read it along with us! We welcome your comments and hope that you enjoy ours.

Billy: Wasn’t it the FUCKING juice?

Mandy: IT WAS GOOD.

Billy: YES! Then do me a recap, fool!

Mandy: There are spacemen and then there are SPACEMEN. The SPACEMEN are doing some crazy shit and Planetary wants to shut it down.

Billy: Do you feel like this issue was a proper payoff for the last five issues of QUESTIONS QUESTIONS QUESTIONS!?!

Mandy: No. I didn’t. But I don’t think that can be helped. I think that’s what happens when you spend five issues asking questions. HOW CAN YOU PAY THAT OFF? I mean, the LOST finale was HUGE AND AWESOME this week but even it can never regain the ground it lost being lame for so long.

Billy: Well, this issue does kick the story into high gear.

Mandy: I agree.

Billy: Finally, we know who the “bad guys” are, right?

Mandy: YES.

Billy: Did you see the snowflake on the first page? In the eye?

Mandy: YESSSSSS!

Billy: SO AWESOME!

Mandy: Agreed.

Billy: Did any of the history stuff not make sense? The science stuff particularly?

Mandy: No. It made sense. I’m teh smart.

Billy: Did you notice Four Freedoms Plaza was a giant Obelisk?

Mandy: Yes!

Billy: OH MANZ!

Mandy: I know that word Obelisk from the final issue of Y:The Last Man. I LEARN THINGS FROM COMICS.

Billy: Are you starting to notice all the symbolism? The eyes, the triangles, etc… The snowflake.

Mandy: Yes. Definitely.

Billy: Anyway, I love the panel with the gun and Sputnik. Heh, just the though of that actually happening makes me giggle.

Billy: So, the plot, Snow and Jakita break into the FF Plaza and totally check out all the crazy shit inside, like…”The Subterrans”

Billy: The Gateway to the Negative Zone…

Billy: Which, to me, was such a great re-imagining of the classice Lee/Kirby idea. It’s not some fancy science stuff. No, it’s just this huge portrait on a wall that you can just WALK INTO! For those that don’t know, this entire issue (or entire series?) is the ultimate nod to the epic Lee/Kirby run on the Fantastic Four. The Subterrans = Moloids, The N-Zone portal, the way Leather burns away his beard is the same way Torch burned away the amnesiac Namor’s beard, etc, etc….

Mandy: That’s so ill. I liked that a lot. Dude, so I like how we very subtly learn that Jakita is indestructible. She gets TORE UP… and then he’s like, “Oh here, give her this Band-Aid.”

Billy: Yeah, she is very tough… I def want to ask her about Broken Earth – A.

Mandy: I bet you’d like to ask her about a lot of things.

Billy: So, we have Dowling (Mr. Fantastic), Greene (The Thing), Leather (Human Torch) and Suskind (Invisible Woman)… I like how Sue Storm is a Super Nazi. So, how do The Four, as they will come to be known, get their powers? They fly directly into the Snowflake, OBV!

Mandy: THEY TAKE THEM.

Billy: What happens to them!?!?! What are their powers?!?!?!

Mandy: Awesomeness?

Billy: We know Leather is like Torch, but he’s got this weird blue flame and he can phase through walls. He’s also super strong. We know this by the way he just “handles” Jakita. So basically, the Four are more than humans and they actually kind of fancy themselves gods. Question for you: if Leather is so powerful, why does he let Snow kick him in the balls?

Mandy: He wasn’t expecting it? He knows Snow. His guard was down… or, he likes it.

Billy: Or, he let him?

Mandy: Yeah, alright fine. I don’t know.

Billy: Leather kind of echoes the shit Brass was saying last issue, right? About who benefits from Snow’s amnesia? Does that make us trust Brass or Planetary less?

Mandy: I always trust Brass. He has a hot bod. I mean…I don’t trust Planetary. I just don’t trust them.

Billy: What do you think of the basic idea behind “The Four”? That idea being, “what if the Fantastic Four has gone the other way? What if their powers made them believe they were gods and that they used those powers not to help people, but to secretly rule the world?”

Mandy: I think that is most likely what would happen if people had superpowers, and I think it’s a comment on what the smartest and the most powerful people actually do in our society.

Billy: So controlling the world by denying it the wonders of modern science? Control by denial.

Mandy: It’s all about control, right?

Billy: HAH. I knew you’d say that, smartass.

Mandy: It’s why you love me.

Billy: So, this is it, this is what the rest of the series is about. These are the guys Snow has to take down/expose… what do you think?

Mandy: I think this would make a better movie than Fantastic Four. I like that we know who the bad guys are but we still don’t really know who we can trust.

Billy: Yeah, it’s awesome. We literally have no idea what’s going on for five issues and then Ellis finally spills, and now we have focus, but even more questions! And I love that we only really know one of the Four so far. I mean, we literally know nothing about the other three, arguably the more powerful members.

Mandy: Yes. I mean, I don’t think Snow is going to be kicking the Nazi in the balls. I’m just saying.

Billy: I feel like all the lost writers were taking notes.

Mandy: Hah.

Billy: What do you think of the pacing so far? I think a lesser writer would have made issue #6 the first issue. Do you think you would have liked this book more if #6 was issue #1?

Mandy: No. The questions and suspense have made the book for me.

Billy: Yeah, that’s what makes it such an epic read.

Mandy: So, one last question?

Mandy: Got milk?

Billy: Was that your question? You’re so stupid.

Join us next Monday when Ellis and Cassaday take Plaentary on a walk through the weird side. If you haven’t read Planetary, you can pick up the trades at your local shop or order them online from Amazon.com at the following link:

Planetary Vol. 1: All Over the World and Other Stories

Series Review: Planetary #5

Welcome to another installment of Billy & Mandy’s weekly series review of Planetary, the best book you’ve never read about the super hero genre! We’ll be reviewing each and every issue, beginning with #1 and plowing all the way through to #27, whenever the hell that bastard ships. If you’re just joining us, it’s not too late to get on the ground floor. You can find the previous installment here.

WARNING: SPOILERS!!! If you don’t want to be spoiled, please read the issue before continuing. Or, read it along with us! We welcome your comments and hope that you enjoy ours.

 

Mandy: In Issue 5, we get a conversation between Mr. Sexypants Axel Brass and the coolest guy around, Elijah Snow. It seems these guys go way back and are possibly the same breed of awesome man? Snow tells Brass that he doesn’t necessarily trust the people that he works for and Brass has some advice if Snow is going to go hunting for the truth. BOOM. Briefest recap ever.

Billy: I feel like this series is so good, that we aren’t actually reviewing these books… we’re just kind of squeeing about the awesome.

Mandy: You just said squee.

Billy: So, anyway, lots of clues in this one. I guess we can kind of go page by page. Why doesn’t Snow know Brass? Or, why doesn’t Brass know Snow… or does he?

Mandy: Because they erased his memory? It seems like they were maybe contemporaries? Like Snow could have been there but he was caught up doing something else?

Billy: Of course, you had no idea who Jenny Sparks was… I should let you borrow the Stormwatch issues that came out before this series to give you an idea of what it means to know Jenny Sparks.

Mandy: She a ho?

Billy: HAH. No, I guess I made it sound that way though?

Mandy: Yeah, you did.

Billy: I love the silent panel after Brass says he could have handled being told the truth about it being 1999. It makes you want to snuggle him. John Cumberland, “The High”, is also from the same story as Jenny Sparks.

Mandy: So basically what you’re saying is that I was unprepared to fully comprehend this issue and that it’s your fault? Awesome. Good looking out, boss.

Billy: There are about three trades you need to read to prepare you for all the intrigue.

Mandy: I’M ALWAYS READY FOR INTRIGUE.

Billy: But not really, though. As a casual reader, the Jenny and High stuff doesn’t really factor into the main plot. I don’t think he ever mentions it again. I think it’s just there for us to understand how big the world of Planetary actually is.

Mandy: Well awesome.

Billy: What did you think of all the prose? Was that your favorite part? I love that there are characters called “The Murder Colonels”.

Mandy: Yes. I was just going to bring that up.

Billy: Well, bring it up then…

Mandy: Hey Billy, you know what I really want to talk about? The fact that Ellis incorporates pages of prose into the narrative structure of this issue…

Billy: HAHA. And why did you like it so much?

Mandy: OBV NO PICTURES, er, except when there were pictures. Also, Anna Hark = HOTNESS

Billy: How about Snow asking Brass about all this conspiracy shit? And Brass has been in a mountain for 50 years, so how the hell would he know, right? Or maybe, do you think Snow was sort of interrogating Brass in a round about way?

Mandy: Well, on the one hand, he’s the dumbness. I feel like he knows there are things that he should know but doesn’t. He always talks to people like he doesn’t trust anyone.

Billy: What did you think when Brass said all that jive about “secret agendas”?

Mandy: Right now, when he isn’t sure he can trust Jakita and Drums, I think he’s looking for answers without having to give too much.

Billy: Do you think he suspects Jakita as the 4th man? That would seem obvious based on his “I wonder” comment.

Mandy: I’m honestly not sure. I mean, how much of this stuff did you figure out the first time around?

Billy: I thought it might be Jakita… but that seemed too obvious. I don’t know. I’ve read this issue upwards of 10 times, so… but I do know that I did think Brass knew more than he was letting on.

Mandy: Yes. I definitely think so too.

Billy: Just by the way he asks all those questions in that one panel. He’s kind of guiding Snow, letting him know how to pursue his answers and stuff.

Mandy: And Brass… he knows more about Snow than Snow knows. Don’t you think so?

Billy: Yes, I think based solely on this issue, one could say Brass knows Snow… but he isn’t letting on. Oh hey, my favorite panel from the whole issue, and the one that is most memorable, is the one where we get a close-up shot of Brass, laying on the hillside and he says “Glories”.

Mandy: Because you love his face?

Billy: There’s just something about that word, how and when it’s delivered that just resonates with everything that is good and fun about comics.

Mandy: I can see that. The last panel of Snow made me sad though…

Billy: Yeah, the next page with the black and white image of Brass and friends gaying out about how awesome they are… and Snow is all emo. It’s like Snow totally missed the point of having powers.

Mandy: Yes. WHAT WAS HE BUSY DOING? I hope he was just exploiting his powers to get booze and girls.

Billy: Snow’s kind of like this messiah figure. Brass and Co. are like these false prophets, doing it for the glories and the girls, you know? And poor little Snow, he’s like Jesus, all sad and shit, because he’s the real deal and he knows it’s not about the glory, it’s about the horrible fucking pain that’s in store for him. I mean, why else does he wear white, if he isn’t the Christ figure?

Mandy: Hmm. Interesting idea.

Billy: What do you think the significance of the prose sections is? Ellis wouldn’t just toss that in there for the English majors, would he?

Mandy: It was like Easter eggs. Like you may have flipped past it on your first read.

Billy: I totally did. I knew they were important, but I had no clue why. I thought it might just have been kind of his way of showing their origin stories. Hey, based on the last 5 issues, what fictional book do you think those pages are excerpted from?

Mandy: Oh MAN. See, I knew I should have been paying attention.

Billy: Don’t worry, he lets you know where the pages are from. By the middle of the series, you’ll wish Ellis would publish the fictional book as a real book.

Mandy: I ALREADY WISH HE WOULD.

Billy: Dude, is Doc Brass sexier than ever, even with the clumpy legs?

Mandy: Dude, question!

Billy: NO, time’s up!

Join us next Monday when Ellis and Cassaday finally give us our first glimpse at the real horrors of the 20th Century. If you haven’t read Planetary, you can pick up the trades at your local shop or order them online from Amazon.com at the following link:

Planetary Vol. 1: All Over the World and Other Stories

Series Review: Planetary #4

Welcome to another installment of Billy & Mandy’s weekly series review of Planetary, the best book you’ve never read about the super hero genre! We’ll be reviewing each and every issue, beginning with #1 and plowing all the way through to #27, whenever the hell that bastard ships. If you’re just joining us, it’s not too late to get on the ground floor. You can find the previous installment here.

WARNING: SPOILERS!!! If you don’t want to be spoiled, please read the issue before continuing. Or, read it along with us! We welcome your comments and hope that you enjoy ours.

Mandy: Are we going to do this or what?

Billy: I was about to say

Mandy: So the fourth issue opens with the best line ever. I’m going to start describing things by saying, “It’s like Satan farted.” A building has been vaporized… we’re not sure where or why but as the next couple pages unfold, we learn that it belongs to the Hark Corporation, that the guy with the best line in the series was “observing” the explosionating and that he’s reporting to Wilder, personal security assistant something or other to the head of the company.

Mandy: Later, in a phone call, we learn that the fireworks were courtesy of a terrorist group called “The Snowflake”. This is suspicious, obv. Then he, I think rescues a guy from an attack in an alleyway and it’s at that point, I think, that he stumbles across ground zero and realizes that there is something amiss. Unfortunately, this is also sort of where I got lost. So forgive me.

Billy: How did you get lost? Did you read the pages out of order?

Mandy: Yes, I read them. Moron. Anyway, he goes charging through the wreckage…towards something… and in the meantime we see that our friends from Planetary are there. Wilder… falls? Into this light thing or something? I’m not sure. The Drummer wasn’t expecting that and neither was I. Minutes pass and there is humorous joking between Jakita and The Drummer…and then our boy Wilder is expelled from the… um… lightshow?

Billy: I just laughed out loud and then Dylan started laughing… so, just know that we are both here laughing at you.

Mandy: I told you to do the recap. I told you I was confused. So now, he’s in the hospital and he tells the Planetary crew that while he was down there, he became part of a boat, WHAT? to reunite… um… something. He remembers everything, but I do not. IT’S THE SNOWFLAKE.

Billy: HAHA. I love the page with Drummer bouncing on the artifact and Jakita has to tell him to get off. So classic. I wish I owned that page.

Mandy: And then she’s HORRIFIED that she even has to say it. Like, “How is this my crew? How is this my life?”

Billy: What did you think of Axel Brass giving Wilder the once over? Too obvious?

Mandy: Well first of all, Axel Brass is a hot mess these days, is he not? He looks a lot better since they’ve cleaned him up, I’m just saying.

Billy: OK, really, I don’t get how you got lost? He’s obviously transported into a spaceship, right? You got that, right?

Mandy: Yes. I mean. I get it. And correct me if I’m wrong but there’s a blink, right, like a difference in time between where he was and planetary time, right?

Billy: Yes, I believe there was a difference in time.

Billy: Ok, so continuing on with the explanations… the Bleed is the space between dimensions and this “shiftship” was designed to “sail” in it. And the artifact that Wilder steps on and the Drummer jumps all over like a kindergartner is called a “travelstone”, they’re kind of like homing beacons.

Mandy: So are is the ship part of the mechanism to sort of maintain order between the universes?

Billy: What now?

Mandy: I’m not being confused very well… what’s the point of the transport things that travel in the bleed?

Billy: Well, what’s the point of ships that travel the seven seas? Same thing. Think of the Bleed as a massive, endless ocean.

Mandy: Yeah, okay. That makes sense.

Billy: So, the page with the ship crashing implies that this “accident” killed the dinosaurs? Cool, right?

Billy: Then the ship explains to Wilder that it needs human operators to fly. Then Wilder explains to Planetary that he needs to find six more people, willing to give up being human, to help him fly the shiftship back into the Bleed.

Mandy: And Jakita’s like NICE STORY. I WILL PUT IT IN MY SCRAP BOOK. And Snow’s like FUCK THAT. WE ARE HELPING.

Billy: Yeah. Jakita’s cold blooded, but I still wouldn’t kick her out of bed… though she’d probably kick my balls off, now that I think about it.

Billy: OH, I love Wilder’s origin story… there’s some nice “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” mixed in with some Captain Marvel. Pretty cool.

Billy: Just compare Marvel’s costume to Wilder’s.

Mandy: Okay. So this makes a little more sense.

Billy: Good, because this shiftship plays a huge role in the series, so you will see Wilder again… maybe three more times? Hey, are you asking yourself, “Where did the ship crash?”

Mandy: Yes.

Billy: I mean, they have to dig it up right? Them being archeologists and all.

Mandy: YES. GET A SHOVEL.

Billy: OMG! I have to cut this short, Dylan is being a monster right now!!! PUT THE COMICS DOWN!!! Oh, are you less confused? Did you have anymore questions?

Mandy: Why is he so hot?

Billy: …

Join us next Monday as we crack open one of the mysterious Planetary Guides and discover the glories and wonders of the 20th Century. If you haven’t read Planetary, you can pick up the trades at your local shop or order them online from Amazon.com at the following link:

Planetary Vol. 1: All Over the World and Other Stories

Series Review: Planetary #3

Welcome to another installment of Billy & Mandy’s weekly series review of Planetary, the best book you’ve never read about the super hero genre! We’ll be reviewing each and every issue, beginning at #1 all the way through to #27, whenever the hell that bastard ships. If you’re just joining us, it’s not too late to get on the ground floor. You can find last week’s review here.

WARNING: SPOILERS!!! If you don’t want to be spoiled, please read the issue before continuing. Or, read it along with us! We welcome your comments and hope that you enjoy ours.

Billy: Do me a recap fool!!!!!

Mandy: OKAY. SOUNDS GOOD. LET ME TURN THE LIGHT ON. I thought that this Planetary was a little confusing.

Billy: Why?

Mandy: Maybe I didn’t. I don’t know.

Billy: The plot is super simple: Hong Kong Action movie staring Chow Yun Fat.

Mandy: YEAH, NO BRAIN SHITBIRD. Except it was like Bones… that Snoop Dogg movie.

Billy: I’ve never seen that one.

Mandy: Alright. Here I go.

Billy: “Hong Kong is so kind to me.” I loved that 90% of the panels were “widescreen”.

Mandy: So we open on a street in Hong Kong. Some shady shit is going down – whores dying and drugs being selled. The bad guys are escaping but trouble’s afoot – the ghosty badged kind of trouble. Ghost cop shoots up the getaway car which the driver promptly drives into a phone poll. It’s very clear that the cop is a ghost and here are our friends from Planetary. They’ve witnessed the whole thing. Snow, for one, is quite amazed to learn that the Phantom Cop of Hong Kong that he’s heard about is REAL! WOOO. I mean, but seriously, Snow: are things still surprising you? And of course, The Drummer is just amazing… as usual.

Billy: Snow’s like Frodo in that way. Shit hasn’t gotten “real” yet.

Mandy: I KNOW. Forget the fact that he is himself REALLY OLD and yet NOT DEAD and also that he has POWERS. That is all normal but everything else is like OMG FREAKSHOW.

Billy: I love the way Cassaday rendered the ghost cop. Perfection. Well, there must be something wrong with his memory then, right?

Mandy: MAYBE! So the crew rolls up on Planetary headquarters in Hong Kong and we learn that Planetary is at least six years old. News to Jakita!

Billy: And we learn more about Drummer and Snow’s powers. What did you think of the “hard drive of souls”?

Mandy: Okay, so are we talking about it now? No longer requiring a whole recap of the issue?

Billy: We can just get into it here.

Mandy: That was the explosion from the earth, right?

Billy: Yeah.

Mandy: It confused me. That was the part that confused me.

Billy: What exactly confused you? Did you get that it was related to the snowflake from the first issue?

Mandy: Yeah, I did. I got that when The Drummer threw out that number. But the snowflake confused me too so this just added to my confusion.

Billy: Well, I’m sorry you’re so unreal dumb.

Mandy: Thanks.

Billy: So this issue is pretty straight forward with its themes: Vengeance and Purpose. How do you think that relates to our heroes?

Mandy: Well it’s funny… our heroes essentially have no idea who they work for and at this point, neither do we, so there’s always those questions: are they good guys or are they bad guys? Is there even such a thing? Will we ever know which is which?

Billy: It’s all on that page where he talks about how no one understands better than a betrayed Hong Kong Cop.

Mandy: Yeah. His purpose is vengeance because there is no greater power… no punishment or afterlife. I think that idea sort of points to but at the same time undercuts the very idea of Planetary. I don’t know if I’m explaining my thoughts correctly but at the end, when he says “Just us” and Drummer mishears it as “Justice”, I think that alludes to their internal conflict. In order to do what they do, they have to believe that what they are doing is right thing but at the same time, how can they be sure if they don’t know who they work for?

Billy: Yeah, it’s almost impossible to see now, and this issue seems like one of those throwaway episodes, but this issue is a very specific and clever metaphor for the purpose of the entire series and a brilliant foreshadow of Snow’s journey. Just keep it in mind as we move forward from here.

Mandy: I resisted the urge to think of it as a throw-away. You don’t throw away a line like “Justice”/”Just us” on a one-off with no point, right?

Billy: Yeah, definitely don’t do that.

Mandy: Haha. I’ll keep that in mind.

Billy: This is one of the best issues of the run too, almost because it’s so clean. Any other thoughts before we close it out? Or questions? UGH, I can’t really explain the hard drive to you because it would spoil a bunch of stuff for later.

Mandy: Yeah, don’t. We’ll get there and then I’ll be like OH YEAH.

Billy: Fair.

Mandy: One last thing. This post needs more Shia: http://www.xxxxx.com

Billy: Not posting that!

Mandy: BOOOOOO.

Join us next Monday as we uncover one of the most important elements in the Planetary mythology. If you haven’t read Planetary, you can pick up the trades at your local shop or order them online from Amazon.com at the following link:

Planetary Vol. 1: All Over the World and Other Stories

Series Review: Planetary #2

Welcome to another installment of Billy & Mandy’s weekly series review of Planetary, the best book you’ve never read about the super hero genre! We’ll be reviewing each and every issue, beginning at #1 all the way through to #27, whenever the hell that bastard ships. If you’re just joining us, it’s not too late to get on the ground floor. You can find last week’s review of the preview issue here.

(Sorry about the lateness. We experienced technical issues that could not be helped.)

WARNING: SPOILERS!!! If you don’t want to be spoiled, please read the issue before continuing. Or, read it along with us! We welcome your comments and hope that you enjoy ours.

Billy: Give us a recap, luv.

Mandy: Alright. Can I just say before we start that these Japanese guys don’t look Japanese? The headbands helped though.

Billy: Yes they do. You are dumb

Mandy: Not in the first panel they don’t.

Billy: Now can I just say that “It does us good to have our genitals frozen into small blue dead things.” is the single greatest opening line every written?

Mandy: Agreed.

Billy: When I read that line ten years ago, it floored me. EPIC!

Mandy: It’s just because you like to talk about your balls.

Billy: Okay, you may proceed.

Mandy: The story opens with this grip of Japanese guys rolling hard on this island… there’s a clear leader and he’s going on like he’s the next Jim Jones. The “Master Storyteller” is ready for freedom… mental freedom, that is. Freedom that only comes with cold and isolation. At least one of his followers forgot to drink the Kool-Aid though; he’s in for taking over Japan but there is doubt in his eyes and we see that his instincts may be right on the money when we discover THE GIANT FLY that’s decaying just down the hill. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Mandy: Clearly this is a job for Planetary, an organization that has offices ALL OVER THE WORLD. Our three heroes (?) roll up on headquarters, manned by one crazy Japanese guy. The Drummers stirs up trouble as usual.

Billy: The Drummer with the pic machine thing was classic. I fell in love.

Mandy: So yeah, Snow… being the new guy… gets to learn along with the rest of us what our Japanese friends have also just learned. Island Zero is populated with MONSTERS WOOOO.

Billy: In regards to the “Master Storyteller”, since you’re a writer, do you ever fear the day you’ll go wild shit crazy and kidnap a bunch of students to some faraway island… and rape their minds?

Mandy: I am constantly conscious of the line that is inherent in trying to get my students to think without parading my own thoughts through the classroom. It’s a fine line. I try to steer clear.

Billy: So you do think about “mind rape”?

Mandy: Only in so far as I think about avoiding it.

Billy: Okay, continue with the recap, I’m going to run downstairs for some waffle toast.

Mandy: Back on the island, Sir Doubts-A-Lot is beginning to question the Master Storyteller. And with good reason as he admits that they are in HELL. I think all that really needs to be said is that Planetary knows that the Japanese have landed and they want to get them out of there before they realize the number of Big Bads that are roaming free… or were. They’re too late though and the boys have stumbled upon a rotting dinosaur, which Storyteller guy promptly decides is dinner. YUM YUM. Should go great with the Kool-Aid there, huh boss? However, his crew ain’t having it and we soon learn the cost of insurrection: kiss the cook or it’s head ‘splosion for you.

Billy: OMG you’re so clever!

Mandy: The military appears, apparently the keepers of the island. Storyteller’s not having that so he counters with nerve gas for everyone. A noble way to go. We learn more about Snow’s power: heat subtraction… or another scientific whatsit I’m going to have to look up. And then the story about the monsters… they’re all dead, or are they?

Billy: Speaking of learning about Snow and his powers… is this the first time we see Jakita display her super speed? I only ask because it’s so mixed up in my head.

Mandy: This is the first time.

Billy: She is like the Flash all of a sudden, did that throw you? I mean, she obviously had some kind of power right?

Mandy: Yes. I assumed. I was waiting to find about her powers.

Billy: Mothra!!! Gojira!!! I know you must have got the pop culture reference but did you care at all?

Mandy: Yes. Of course I got that stuff. And yeah, I was psyched because I got it.

Billy: For me, seeing the monsters from those movies appear in this book was kind of a shock. I know he set up in the first issue that he was going to be borrowing characters from other mediums, I just didn’t think the scope of the series would be so… BIG. It was a pleasant surprise. It was a pretty awesome revelation the first time I read it. And the cover is wonderfully misleading. It makes you think of Jurassic Park, not Godzilla.

Mandy: I think he needs to make it big. I think it has to extend beyond the comic universe because the questions that he is asking are real questions about power and its use and abuse.

Billy: The thing that I always loved about this issue is how little it actually relates to the overall conspiracy plot. It’s just Planetary being Planetary. Of course at the end, they do retrieve/steal a bunch of informations that will reappear later in the series, but for the most part, Ellis is kind of just defining this “Strange World”.

Mandy: Yes. That is exactly what I was going to say. Ugh.

Billy: What?

Mandy: Shut up so I can say some smart stuff. You’re stepping all over my knowledge.

Billy: Ok… GO!!! Say something insightful! While you’re thinking, ponder this: “It’s the fictional story of my life and I want you to tell it.”

Mandy: What I was going to say is this: I have the feeling that we’re not getting a lot of big picture stuff but that doesn’t mean Ellis is going to give us a bunch of mysteries with no answers. We’ll slowly start to see the powers of the Jakita, Snow, and The Drummer and see how they work. Also, we realize that this is definitely a STRANGE WORLD. So clearly, there is a purpose for Planetary, right? Because the world can’t know that there are monsters out there…

Billy: That was good, now you got me thinking.

Mandy: Also, obviously, Ellis gives us more of the ethics questions without really giving it to us. If there are monsters on an island in the middle of the sea, is it cool that the government or some smart agency to keep it from us?

Billy: Yeah, who’s responsible for these monsters? Who made them? Who unleashed them? These are the questions he’s jammed into our tiny brains. Who’s accountable? Who are we going to punish? Who’s face is getting kicked in? We’ll find out soon, in issue 6 actually. Ellis pulls back the curtain a little on the Big Bads.

Mandy: Good. I like answers.

Billy: There’s not much else to talk about here, other than it was a really fun read. Any other thoughts?

Mandy: Do you think there are monsters on a far off island, Billy?

Billy: I hope so. I hope they attack New York like Clover did in that movie and a bunch of yuppies die. Stupid Beth, shut up already you whiny ####!

Mandy: Also, how do you feel knowing that there are new pictures of Shia on the internet today and I’ll soon be putting them on your Myspace?

Billy: No comment.

Join us next Monday as we take on Hong Kong action movies in Planetary #3. If you haven’t read Planetary, you can pick up the trades at your local shop or order them online from Amazon.com at the following link:

Planetary Vol. 1: All Over the World and Other Stories

Series Review: Planetary Preview

Welcome to the second installment of Billy & Mandy’s weekly series review of Planetary, the best book you’ve never read about the super hero genre! We’ll be reviewing each and every issue, beginning at #1 all the way through to #27, whenever the hell that bastard ships. If you’re just joining us, it’s not too late to get on the ground floor. You can find last week’s review of issue #1 here.

WARNING: SPOILERS!!! If you don’t want to be spoiled, please read the issue before continuing. Or, read it along with us! We welcome your comments and hope that you enjoy ours.

Mandy: ALRIGHT. ARE WE READY TO DO THIS THING OR WHAT?

Billy: Today we’re going to review the Planetary Preview that was released a few months prior to issue #1. You could find it as an 8-page backup feature in about three or four different Wildstorm books at the time.

Mandy: YEAH! And I’ll be honest, I felt TOTALLY TRICKED when I got home and realized that that is what you had given me. I thought I was getting a full issue. I WAS SOOOO MAD.

Billy: Well, yeah, that’s why I didn’t tell you. I knew you’d be pissed. Plus, I’m a jerk like that. I thought it would be funny. Oh, did you read the comic on the flipside, Gen 13 #33?

Mandy: I didn’t read it all. I was going to ask you about it. Like, should I read it from the beginning? I don’t like starting in the middle of things. It confuses me.

Billy: No, you weren’t supposed to read the Gen 13 part… it was bad, right?

Mandy: Yeah, it looked pretty stains.

Billy: So, the inside cover of the Preview has the following text: “One hundred years of superhero history, slowing leaking out into the modern world… Sometimes, ordinary people uncover things that are best left covered. Sometimes, things best left covered emerge into ordinary life and do not have the world’s best interests at heart. These are the times when Planetary arrive—invited or not…” Did that help you understand more about Planetary at all? I have to say, it confused me since in the entire series we won’t see many “ordinary people”.

Mandy: Yeah, but we had already figured it all out last week when we talked about the first issue, which was infinitely more confusing… I was mostly like OH THAT Billy!, because it would have been less work for me if you’d let me read this first.

Billy: Yeah, but I wanted to set it all up for you, and the first issue is tons better at doing that than this preview. This thing just gives you a taste.

Mandy: Yeah, but in the beginning of a series when you’re trying to get people hooked on your shit, you need CONTRAST. You can’t say SOME UNREAL BADASSES DISCOVER SOME OTHER UNREAL BADASSES. It’s confusing.

Billy: So, this story is titled “Nuclear Spring”. What did you think you were going to find after reading that first page? A general? An underground bunker? The word nuclear? CLUES!!!

Mandy: ALL OF THE ABOVE. Yeah, I had no idea. But they look so awes sitting there on his couch like that. Like, yeah buddy, we crashed your pad.

Billy: And then Jakita knocks some dude through a reinforced concrete wall. That guy is dead.

Mandy: Also, that guy’s face is wrinkled.

Billy: I don’t think Jakita has a problem with killing. She kills much easier than 355.

Mandy: Yes. Here fists are for power. Also, is it just me or is Elijah Snow getting YOUNGER? He is invigorated by asskicking.

Billy: Maybe… or maybe that’s a clue?

Mandy: Yet, I appreciate Jakita’s willingness to follow orders. Still, it makes me question her more… I trust her less. Like, is it blind devotion or is she AWARE of who she works for and what she’s doing. That question resonates with my concerns.

Billy: The next couple of pages is all about exposition, but the writing is so fluid, you don’t even notice unless you’re really looking. And I love the line about Drummer humping the TV.BTW, in issue 16, it gets paid off. Drummer humps his toaster.

Mandy: I like my toast dry though. You know, Jakita’s first line really struck a chord with me. I’ve said that to people before. “Cuff yourself. Try to go to sleep. Or else.”

Billy: You would.

Mandy: No. She’s just so badass. She’s like, “You’ve been taken out of this fight but I don’t even have time to do it so you will do it for me…to yourself.”

Billy: Also, Bruce Banner– er, I mean, David Paine looks like such a jerkoff in the flashback panel.
Mandy: He’s just confident in his awesome.

Billy: The following page gets into the super science of it all. I know you were confused last time, the snowflake and the multiverse, but did this all make sense?

Mandy: Yes. This stuff was explained better. Although, confession, I had never heard of description theory before and I thought to myself, “Billy has heard of this… he will talk to me like I know what this is.”

Billy: I had no idea what it was at the time I first read this, so I Googled it. It’s really interesting.

Mandy: Because why?

Billy: Basically, the less description you put in your screenplays, the tighter it reads.

Mandy: I thought it was like YOU COULD DESCRIBE THE WORLD AND THEN IT WAS HOW YOU WANTED IT TO BE. Like, “The sky is made of candy” or “My hand is a popsicle.”

Billy: That’s “The Secret” tech.

Mandy: These books are filled with money.

Billy: It’s been on Oprah.

Mandy: BOOO OPRAH.

Billy: Dude, seriously, what was the stupid ass general’s wife doing on the test site?

Mandy: Trying to get humped.

Billy: So dumb, women are. Like, no time for sex now woman… SCIENCE PREVAILS!!!

Mandy: You lead a lonely life, dude.

Billy: BOOOM!!!! IT’S THE HULK BITCHES!!! Before the big reveal, did you figure out it was going to be the Hulk?

Mandy: Yes. Obv. I was like, OH THIS GUY’S MOLECULES ARE GOING TO GET MESSED WITH.

Billy: I mean, you are pretty thick.

Mandy: The Hulk has dinosaur toes. DINOSAUR TOES.

Billy: Did that make you smile?

Mandy: YES. And, I appreciated the confirmation in the GIANT MAN SKELETON though. They starved him out. That’s kind of mean.

Billy: Yeah, the last page was a nice epilogue… took him 20+ years to die. So sad. But, he was a monster, and he was probably killing and eating all kinds of things, like people and dogs. Question: What happened to the daughter?

Mandy: Yeah, that was what I was just going to ask you.

Billy: Will we ever find out? QUESTIONS!!!!

Mandy: I LIKE QUESTIONS. But the clock is ticking, you know? Like, this shit better not be like Lost. I don’t want a list of five hundred questions before they tell me that the polar bears don’t matter.

Billy: When did they say the polar bears don’t matter?

Mandy: Um, in season four when they still never talked about it. Actually… I think the polar bears ARE important… they just brought them up again. Something about time travel or something.

Billy: LAME. Anyway, back to awesome… in issue nine, my second favorite issue of the series, at the end Ellis just straight up presents you with four facts that send your head swimming!!! It’s going to be awesome for you.

Mandy: OH MAH. I cannot wait. Also, and I think you should keep this in the review because it’s important. I just left a little Shia on your space.

Billy: …things I loved about this Preview: funny dialogue, a clear conception of what Planetary is and the realistic way Ellis describes the superhero world. All the description about the Hulk was pretty awesome.

Mandy: Hey, remember that time you called me to ask me to name another movie that had to do with time travel besides Back to the Future? Because you couldn’t remember The Time Machine? You’re pretty dumb.

Billy: I’m just ignoring you now… some years before this, Ellis wrote something called RUINS. It’s about the Marvel Universe and what would have happened to it if everything went wrong instead of all superhero-y. Like, instead of getting amazing spider powers, Peter Parker contracts some rare disease and dies. Shit like that. Marvel actually hates the book so much, they’ll never reprint it. It’s super hard to find. Obviously, I got them signed. Thinking back now, Planetary must have been an idea that spun out of that book.

Mandy: Sexy.

Billy: So, any other thoughts? I think I’m just going to scan every page and post them all… so people at home can check it out and get hooked, if they haven’t been hooked already.

Mandy: I appreciated reading this in light of the first issue. Because I think that every Planetary story needs to be looked at in terms of ethics. That is, were the “humans”, supposedly ordinary people, acting ethically? And I think that in this situation, more than in issue one, it’s clear they were not. I mean, they LET him develop that thing and then they starved him. Mean. Sad times.

Billy: Yeah, I’m glad you see that right away, the ethics thing. Can’t wait for the next one now. Got to get you issue two!

Mandy: Yeah, no more tricks Mr. Zonos.

Join us next Monday as we bask in the glory of Planetary #2 (this time, for real). If you haven’t read Planetary, you can pick up the trades at your local shop or order them online from Amazon.com at the following link:

Planetary Vol. 1: All Over the World and Other Stories

Series Review: Planetary #1

Welcome to the first edition of Billy & Mandy’s weekly series review of Planetary, the best book you’ve ever read about the super hero genre! Better than Dark Knight… better than Watchmen! Yeah, I said… CONTROVERSY!!! We’ll be reviewing each and every issue, beginning at #1, hitting all the spin-offs and even the sneak preview back-up story about the Hulk. We are well aware that the series’ final issue has yet to ship, but we figure that by the time we get to it, Cassaday should be just about finished with it.

WARNING: SPOILERS!!! If you don’t want to be spoiled, please read the issue before continuing. Or, read it along with us! We welcome your comments and hope that you enjoy ours. Continue reading