Oct 6, 2009

[Comics] Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth

Planetary/Batman: Night on EarthI've been pretty keen on (or outright obsessed with) the concept of alternate realities or parallel universes or multiverses ever since I was young. The mere thought of such a thing - that there could be other worlds than this one, but not in a geographic sense but in a temporal or dimensional sense just seemed utterly fascinating to me. It's certainly colored my own fiction writing along with influencing my taste in books, TV shows and other geeky stuff. It's a thing I guess.

Comic books have always dabbled in the realms of science fiction since they make for good story material. Throw in some superheroes along with a comical villain and you get your issue's story done for the month all thanks to some fantastical idea about time travel, secret serums or alternate realities. It's just how it works in the comic book world.

Planetary never felt like a stereotypical superhero-type comic book. In fact, issue after issue the trio dabbled a lot more in the realms of science fiction (and at times fantasy) and behaved more like Agents Mulder and Scully from the X-Files or something. I guess it's why my partner learned to like the series so much and why he knew it was something that I'd be able to get into.

Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth is one of those one-shot crossover comics that a lot of us geeks have learned to fear and love given them mixed quality of such titles. However this time around the pairing turned out to be pretty interesting given Planetary isn't your typical group to encounter in any situation.

In this title, the Planetary crew find themselves on the trail of John Black, whom they believe might have inherited abilities from his father given he had been part of Science City Zero. Of course they were right and the young black happens to have the ability to somehow warp or distort reality such that he can open dimensional gateways or transport people across dimensions. He's not in full control of his abilities and thus the stress of being chased by the trio is enough to set off his powers.

Jakita WagnerImage via Wikipedia

Thus he sends Planetary into alternate versions of Gotham City where they encounter the city's most famous mythical protector - the Batman. However given the erratic nature of Black's powers, they end up meeting many different versions of Batman covering the different eras of the long-running comic book character and his various incarnations, speech patterns, mannerisms and the like. Its both humorous and interesting at the same time and certainly makes for a fun title.

Planetary is not necessarily everyone's cup of tea - they're not necessarily a very action-packed book like most comics unless Jakita Wagner is allowed to let loose on the bad guys. And that will never be the point of the group - they're supposedly the archeologists trying to unearth the world's secret history and that's a job description that doesn't necessarily entail wide scale violence.

Thus that's how the book shines - as a rather cerebral interest piece that manages to show the many different versions of Batman in the form of different aspects of the same character but in different universes. It's simple by the standards of the science fiction story world at large, but it does make for a much meatier comic book and one that ups the bar for intelligence and thought. This is one of the reasons I eventually read the entire run of the series out of sheer curiosity.

Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth gets 4.5 versions of Batman out of a possible 5.

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