Related from the bed of a secret hospital: an even more secret history. Discover the story of Doctor Axel Brass, the forgotten pre-war adventurer who spent fifty years guarding the multiversal door opened by a computer he couldn't shut off. It's an untold story of greatness in America, of jungle kings and covert operators and a daughter in the night!
Planetary #5 takes a deep dive into Doctor Axel Brass, first introduced in the introductory issue #1, and asks some interesting questions regarding the Planetary team’s motivations and secretive agenda. This is an issue that pushes the boundaries of the comics medium for a story that opens up the entire series to wonderful new depths.
While it might seem like a boring prologue book on its surface, Planetary #5 actually opens a lot of interesting new doors for the series moving forward by exploring Doc Brass’s past through a one on one with Elijah Snow and Brass himself. Following up on how we found Brass in the first issue during Snow’s first mission with Planetary, we now see a healing man looking back at his glory days. Snow has questions that Brass’s history could shed some light on, but don’t expect any blatant on-the-nose answers immediately.
Now five issues in, it’s easy to see this series is playing the long run with strategic tidbits of information dropped at just the right time. As we see the overarching narrative begin to take shape with a mystery surrounding Planetary’s prominence and the old influences of a superhero-type team no long operating, issues such as this find significant importance for the context they provide. I didn’t think Axel Brass would be making a return like this so soon, but with Elijah prying for more information, it makes perfect sense.
The real highlight of Planetary #5 is the utilization of novel script writing to explore Doc Brass’s past. We fall out of traditional comic panels and into paragraphs walking readers through the history Brass had with individuals like Hark, Jimmy, The Aviator, Edison, “the dark millionare and more as they did what heroes do and save the world. These superhero archetypes feel familiar but represent a broad spectrum of the genre with parallels that are begging to be fleshed out more. And while there is select artwork that accompanies these pages seemingly torn from a novel, it does a magnificent job of blending two distinctive storytelling mediums into one book. It’s the type of risk taking and high-quality execution that makes a series an instant classic.
This is an issue that doesn’t pose one specific question to be answered with punching a bad guy, instead, it delves into a discussion on what questions even need to be asked. It’s a pause in the action for both readers and Elijah as we all take a moment to sort through the information thus far and determine what exactly is going on with Planetary. And arguably most importantly, who is this “fourth man” who finances the team?
The artwork is still amazing from the colors to the letters, and the characters are striking deeper emotional chords as the series progresses. While Planetary #5 isn’t the most action-packed or even complex issue, it obviously has a worthwhile story to tell and poses some insightful questions for the future of the series in general. Sometimes you can just feel when an issue is uniquely important, and that’s what I get from this book, even if all the answers aren’t immediately apparent.
Planetary #5 pushes the boundaries of the comics medium, opening up the entire series to wonderful new depths with a deep dive into Doctor Axel Brass, the heroes of past and what it all means for Planetary.
Planetary #5: A Planetary Novel
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
Art - 9.5/109.5/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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