By Will Barber – Taylor
There’s a killer in Crime Alley and Planetary has been called into Gotham to catch him. This is because on their Earth there is no Batman to protect Gotham. There is only Elijah Stone, Jakita Wagner and The Drummer to stop a man with an out of control personal distortion field who’s leaving a grotesque trail of bodies behind him.
As their killer rewrites reality at random, Gotham changes and the Batman appears in the middle of the night. As Gotham changes, so does Batman flitting between different versions of himself. The only constant: the relentlessness of The Caped Crusader bringing the killer to justice, even if it means keeping him out of Planatery’s hands.
Batman: Planetary isn’t really the sort of graphic novel you can just dip into. It is in fact the sort of book that I’d rather I hadn’t dipped into. Set in the Wildstorm universe, the book is based on the comic series Planetary. The series follows the “archaeologists of the impossible” or the Planetary team as they are better known, in their fight to find impossible items etc.
The main problem with the comic though is that each of the Planetary team come across as bland dicks. They don’t have any defining personality or any particular interesting quirks to attract a prospective reader. They just stand around moaning for a bit and talking about how only they can solve the situation in hand. Which would be fair enough, the problem emanates from their universe however they don’t actually explain that to the versions of Batman that they meet. They simply say that they should be handling it without explaining why. The whole plot seems to be them standing around with the odd half arsed fight scene in between. Even though the graphic novel is short it is pretty boring from beginning to end and if I wasn’t reviewing the book I would have put it down before getting to the dismal conclusion.
While the story itself is pretty bad, the artwork is the one salient part of the book. John Cassaday makes up for Warren Ellis’s abysmal writing by beautifully illustrating the book. Each version of Batman is gorgeously illustrated as are the members of Planetary. The various Batmen have wonderfully different techniques used in presenting them. What actually stands out is Cassaday’s depiction of the original Bob Kane Batman as he appeared in 1939.
While Batman: Planetary is a pretty bad book you should still check it out for the illustrations as they are gorgeous and some of the finest comic work to feature in print.