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Planetary – Crossing Worlds Trade Paperback

With the long-awaited final issue of Warren Ellis’ and John Cassaday’s acclaimed run on Planetary, I decided to take a look at one of the odder collections put together by DC Comics through their Wildstorm imprint: the Planetary – Crossing Worlds trade paperback.

The trade paperback isn’t collecting a full story arc, or feature any new Planetary material. Rather this collects three very different one-shots, mini graphic novels in their own right originally released in the ‘prestige’ or bookshelf format, with the only common thread being that they feature alternate reality Planetary members in crossover situations. For the first time ever, I find myself looking at a book more from its presentation aspect then from the artistic merit inside. I can’t help but find myself asking the question as to why this trade paperback was printed.

There is not a lot of cohesiveness to the volume. Though all three of the stories are fine in their own right, they are very different from each other. Of these, the Planetary/Authority crossover is the weakest, definitely written by Warren Ellis for fans of two of his most followed series. The art by Phil Jimenez takes it up a notch, but it’s strictly straight sci-fi fare with zero character development. Odd, considering the writer has had total creative control over both the respective series that crossed over into this chapter.

The second, Planetary/JLA is the most unique and daring approach to two sets of characters, showing new approaches without deviating from established characterization. It does have some fun with role reversal though, with the “JLA” characters being a bit more humanized, going up against the “superpowers” of Planetary. It helps that the art of Jerry Ordway is very pleasing on the eyes.

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The final chapter, Planetary/Batman, is the most accessible, and in many ways, the most well rounded approach. Both sets of characters are portrayed in a way readers would be familiar with, a crossover in the truest sense, with the twist being several different eras of Batman and Gotham City as portrayed through the art of John Cassaday due to the main protagonist ‘jumps’ between alternate realities.

Overall though, I’m disappointed in the creation of this volume. It’s a strange collection of stories that have a vaguely underlying common theme, but are executed very different from each chapter. It looks great next to other Planetary trade paperbacks but it’s too bad we never got a real Planetary graphic novel of original material while waiting for the series to finish. Now that Planetary is finally over though, it will be interesting to re-visit the entire series again, including these one-offs collected here.