Keeping the World Strange: A Planetary Guide Review

Keeping the World Strange: A Planetary Guide is a new book from SequArt that is due out at the end of this month. It is edited by Cody Walker and it has an impressive list of contributors, including Tim Callahan, Peter Sanderson and A. David Lewis. It also has two, count 'em TWO, essays by our own Chad Nevett.

So yeah, you should pick this book up (call your local retailer and make sure that they ordered a copy).

Read on and I'll tell you why!

The collection begins with an article by Kevin Thurman about the "snowflake," Warren Ellis' conception of what the multiverse is like. Delving into Group Theory, Thurman provides a well-researched examination of how the snowflake concept is perceived inside the pages of Planetary.

Andy Richardson follows with a thorough examination of the various mysteries that surrounded the four members of the Planetary team (Elijah Snow, Jakita Wagner, The Drummer and Ambrose Chase) throughout the book's run.

Cody Walker has an essay comparing and contrasting Planetary against its theoretical position in the Wildstorm Universe.

Tim Callahan has a very interesting article about the relation between Warren Ellis, Planetary and Vertigo Comics, particularly as viewed through Planetary #7, the John Constantine issue.

Julian Darius has a fascinating essay about the contrasting elements within Planetary between Ellis' revisionist tendencies and the reconstructionist approach of Planetary (Darius cites the famous exchange at the end of Planetary #1 between Snow and Wagner - "It's a strange world." "Let's keep it that way").

Caleb Stokes takes a look at Planetary through the scope of Future Studies (namely, Plantery as the ultimate Futurist Organization and the Four as symbols of the attempt to control the future).

Ross Payton examines the way that so-called "monsters" are portrayed within the pages of Planetary. Really interesting stuff.

Patrick Meaney has a really great article on decompression, Ellis' theories on the topic and how Planetary exists as a demonstration of Ellis' theories. Well-argued stuff from Meaney.

Peter Sanderson is a wonderful comic book historian, and he pulls out all the stops for his extremely in-depth piece on order vs. freedom in Planetary. The amount of research and the depth of references is stunning, and helps give his compelling arguments a rock solid foundation.

A. David Lewis has a very clever article about game theory mixed with an examination of the importance of Ambrose Chase within Planetary or, going even further, The Man in the White Suit.

Julian Darius returns with an attempt to put the Planetary issues into an optimal reading order.

Finally, let's look at Chad's two entries in the collection.

His last entry (the last full article in the book, before Darius' sequencing efforts) is a thorough examination of the three crossover one-shots that Planetary had over its run, the Batman/Planetary, Authority/Planetary and JLA/Planetary. I think Chad especially pulled out some interesting ideas out of his discussion of the JLA one (which, if you recall, was the only Planetary story not told within the "normal" Planetary universe).

If you recall, Chad had this really interesting series of posts on his website, GraphiContent, where he applies Raymond Chandler's "Twelve Notes on the Mystery Story" to comic book mysteries (now that I think about it, Chad really ought to do one of those posts here at CSBG, help get more people to look at the old ones, as they're quite interesting reads). So it was quite interesting to see him set his sights on the mystery of the Fourth Man within the pages of Planetary. Very strong article.

So there you have it, that's the book in a nutshell. Sounds interesting, right? So go buy it when it comes out! Check out the SequArt website here for their page about the book - it has the code you can use to get your local retailer to order it for you.

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