Sep 8, 2009

[Comics] Planetary / The Authority - Ruling The World

Planetary / The Authority - Ruling The WorldComic book crossovers tend to be rather messy affairs. We, as readers, know full well that crossovers are blatantly commercial in motivation and are designed to draw readers to meet new titles in the hopes that we'll start buying the other comic book outside out of comfort zone as well. Given this prime motivation, good storytelling tends to give way to marketing and this has resulted in some really bad crossovers over the years.

You know how the formula goes - the two characters or teams first tackle the problem alone, then they meet and butt heads a bit, then they unite against the common foe. It gives enough page time to both characters / teams and ensure we get to meet both equally, then see them in action. The fan boy in me can probably think up of hundreds of possible mash-ups that might seem stereotypically "cool", but the rest of me remains pretty jaded about how well executed any crossover can be.

So I guess it makes sense that crossovers not only involve different comic books companies but can also involve characters from the same company, just thrust into a new situation along with another member of the franchise. It gets even better when the two titles turn out to have a single writer at the helm and thus making the crossover even easier.

Enter: Warren Ellis.

Planetary / The Authority - Rule the World is a bit of an alternative take on the comic book crossover. Given the typical aforementioned "formula", it was pretty refreshing to have the two groups not actually meet one another during the course of the issue. It works, believe me.

Here, yet another strange alien threat seems to be attacking Earth in the form of a giant octopus creature of some sort. Naturally the Authority comes to the scene and works to stop the monster while the Planetary team also happen to be in the area. It turns out that somehow Drummer had somehow triggered the monster and Elijah remained focused on trying to remember where he had seen the eggs before.

So the story then progresses on two levels - the Authority continues to deal with threats on a very grand and public level while Planetary works behind the scenes in line with their original thrust of being secret archeologists. Their investigations lead to a risky missions to infiltrate the Carrier and steal whatever information the Authority has but still the groups hardly confront one another.

Ellis made sure each group remained "in-character" and played to their strengths despite this being a crossover, which was really nice. Too many times to crossovers result in very unusual and awkward interactions or character behaving completely differently only because of the introduction of new elements from other titles. This time around each group acted in the only way the thought best and coincidentally ended up maneuvering around one another but still ultimately helping one another.

True, the fan boy in me still wished that the two groups had a bit more interaction to some extent, but after reading quite a number of Ellis titles by now, I'm beginning to understand and appreciate his love for non-conventional solutions and new interpretations of classic patterns.

Planetary / The Authority - Ruling the World gets 3.5 people who have seen the Snowflake out of a possible 5.

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