Warren Ellis is one of my favourite comic writers of all time, nestled neatly between Brain K. Vaughan and the great Larry Hama. He has a distinct voice and is in my mind one of the best single issue writers out there. If you are a comic writer and want to learn how to tell a complete story in one issue, then checkout the back catalogue of Mr Ellis, Global Frequency in particular, or even his recent run on Moon Knight, which set the tone for a series of done in one stories. The one book of Mr. Ellis I would always heartily recommend to anyone though is his book Planetary, with the artwork by John Cassaday.
Planetary is a book about a crotchety old man Elijah Snow who has slowed aging and has cryokinesis, a women with super strength, durability speed etc named Jakita Wagner and a man who can tap into the flow of information of the world called The Drummer, together they are archaeologists of the impossible. They find and catalog extreme weirdness as they investigate the world they live in. A cannon shell that was shot into space containing three people, a dead Chinese cop hellbent on revenge, a super group who created a computer so advanced it opened a gateway into another world.
The book is a mix of every thing, it has hard sci-fi stories, adventure and even throws in a little horror here and there. There is very little over lap with the stories, and there is an over arching story throughout the 27 issues that is brilliantly written and drawn out. What starts out as a series of barely connected short stories turns into a much larger story, like true archaeology.
It wont be for everyone. Warren Ellis is a weird writer with big ideas, and big ideas don’t often sit will with readers, just as Grant Morrison. If you like your comic books simple, ones that you can put down and move on with your life without thinking about the consequences of the world you just read then Planetary isn’t for you. But if you like tales that haunt you, tells of mad scientists, of a world that is weird, big and scary full of other impossibly conceived notions, then Planetary is the book for you. You may not like the ending, but with Mr Ellis, it’s always more about the journey then the end. And besides, how can you not like a book in which a man shatters the frozen crotch of Dracula?