Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Planetary series by Warren Ellis

My apologies, my life has been hectic lately and I hadn't gotten the chance to post Planetary discussion questions. Planetary is almost as difficult to figure out as some of the worldwide conspiracies that Elijah Snow, The Drummer, and Jakita Wagner try to unravel, but is entertaining nonetheless. Unlike The X-Files conspiracies are teased AND answered. Thanks to our resident Planetary expert Jason for about half of these awesome questions.

1. Much of the Planetary series seems to focus on Elijah Snow. Why is he important as the protagonist? What are the roles of Jakita and The Drummer?

2. Planetary very oddly incorporates the DC Universe into its storylines. Did you enjoy its incorporation? Would Planetary have been affected adversely had it been a completely separate universe?

3. Do you feel Planetary is more original than derivative or more derivative than original?

4. Were there any major fictional genres or superhero tropes that you wished the series would have explored in more depth?

5. What is the significance of Century Babies in the series?

6. How do the three (or four) members of Planetary differ from say, The Fantastic Four? Why is this comparison significant?

7. Planetary consists of 27 issues over the course of ten years. How did this affect its fan base? Is this time span apparent when reading them in trade format?

8. What questions does Planetary reveal about the world's "secret history?" Does the government feed us a combination of truth and misinformation?

9. Elijah Snow doesn't follow the typical "superhero code of conduct." (For example, he doesn't flinch to kick people in the "unmentionables" or kill/torture/maroon his enemies.) Is Elijah Snow a superhero in the traditional sense? Does this "morally questionable" behavior make him a stronger/weaker character? Do you wish more traditional superheroes behaved in the same way?

10. Warren Ellis claimed that Planetary was a book about the evolution of the superhero genre rather than a book about superheroes, yet ultimately the final issues focused more on the plot of the characters rather than exploring genre. Did this hurt the story in any way, or did this focus on the book's main characters make the series stronger?

11. Some issues (particularly the later ones) deal with extraordinarily complex and esoteric concepts such as the structural nature of the universe, principles of time travel, the afterlife, theoretical physics, the purpose of the "century babies," etc. Did Ellis lose you as a reader in these moments, or were they adequately explained to keep you entertained and able to follow the story?

12. What are your thoughts on Jakita Wagner as a comic book female protagonist? Does she exemplify what women in comic books could and should be, or do you feel that she is yet another example of a poorly written female character in the superhero world?

13. Warren Ellis tends to write superheroes with very "human" emotions and reactions, filled with characters who tease each other and often struggle with emotional/sexual/anger issues. Do you wish more superhero books were like this, or do you prefer the "do no wrong" stoic style of superhero?

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