As I said in the first edition of 1panel1page, the concept here is to take a look at a single, personally memorable page and panel that has stuck with me over the years. An unforgettable image or scene, something that never left my mind. Now, this could honestly apply to almost all of Planetary, a series I think delves so deep into comic books as an art form and story medium that it could be called essential reading. But while Planetary was smart, and nerdy, and layered in its analysis of the medium, it was the very human moments that rang most true, especially when they involved Elijah Snow the 100-year-old Century Baby, dragged unwillingly into this archeological dig of the strangest places in the world.
The book is loaded with analogs, from everything from the Fantastic Four to Godzilla. And along the way, a key figure Elijah Snow and his team meets is Axel Brass, a fellow Century Baby and blatant homage to Doc Savage. The Planetary team finds Brass in pretty rough shape, delving into a history that mirrors the pulp fiction stories of our reality.
But it's a conversation between Brass and Snow--two old men who have been heroes, who have seen the beautiful and terrible things the world can be. Sitting on a hill, in a scene beautifully rendered by Cassaday and the astoundingly talented colorist Laura Martin.
Some of Warren Ellis's best characters are angry men of great ideals. It's something I related to as a younger reader, and it's something I relate to even more now: the world is wonderful and needs saving. It needs us to be good. It needs us to be better. I feel like Axel Brass's optimism here is something core to the entire Planetary series, and something that spills over into the best of superhero fiction, particularly superhero fiction with a deconstructionist angle. The secret of the world. For years I had this on a hand-written note hanging over my desk; in writing this article, it's returned there again. Save the world, and it'll repay you, every second of every day.
(This idea definitely weaved itself into some of the key concepts of the Indestructibles. They live in a world that can, like ours, be a terrible place; but it is full of wonder, and it is always, always, always worth saving. I stand by this even on the darkest of days.)
I will always love this panel. It helps me make sense of the world, if that makes any sense at all.
So: were you a Planetary reader? Did it have an impact on you? Let's talk in the comments below.
And I'm always open to inviting guest writers to share their own #1panel1page stories. Let me know if you'd like to share your story as well.