Saturday, September 10, 2011

Digital Dollar Bin: Batman/Planetary: Night on Earth

Batman/Planetary: Night on Earth
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: John Cassaday
Release Date: June 25, 2003 (print), July 15, 2010 (digital)
Rating: 4 out of 5 Pixels

I wasn't all that excited about this weekend's Batman 101 sale (going through Sunday night!) because I already own most of these comics in trade form, but I decided to check out the Batman/ Planetary crossover because a couple months ago I bought the JLA/Planetary crossover when it was on sale for $0.99 and I loved it. I've never read a single issue of Planetary but that didn't impede my enjoyment of either of the two crossovers. I loved how JLA/Planetary took more of an Amalgam Comics approach to the crossover, combining the two universes into one rather than doing a traditional crossover, so I wasn't disappointed by Batman/Planetary, which takes another slightly non-traditional take on the crossover concept, yet one that also has a parallel to the mid-90s DC/Marvel crossover that Amalgam Comics was spawned from: like DC vs. Marvel, Batman/Planetary also centers around a character who lives between universes. While Access was set up to be a superhero, though, John Black is more of a tragic figure, a man whose ability to slide between universes comes from a cruel experiment that killed his parents, and who can't stop himself from killing those around him as he sends parts of them to alternate universes or collides multiple versions of the same person into the same place.

Warren Ellis has fun with the concept, making references to 1986's Crisis on Infinite Earths, allowing Planetary's Jakita Wagner to butt heads and egos with Batman, and best of all, giving John Cassaday the chance to have some fun himself by rendering several different versions of Batman. Apart from the basic John Cassaday Batman from the then-current DC Universe, Cassaday also faithfully portrays the Adam West version (whom Elijah Snow mistakes for a transvestite hooker),
the Dark Knight Returns version,
the Neal Adams version (in this Neal Adamsiest of poses),
the Bob Kane version,
and some kind of cool-looking futuristic Batman that I presume John Cassaday made up.
I'd like to read more about this Batman.

Apart from the fun of seeing multiple versions of Batman argue with Jakita and Elijah, this comic also offers a great character moment when Batman recognizes the similarity between his tragic past and John Black's, and offers Black advice on coping with the pain of losing one's parents. Overall a great comic, definitely worth a buck if you get a chance to pick it up before the sale ends tomorrow night, probably even worth whatever price it will be after that.

Now one of these days I need to actually read Planetary...