Batman on Earth

Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth: the Deluxe Edition, written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by John Cassaday and Laura Martin (2003; this edition 2011): OK, so it’s a shameless money-grab in many ways, reprinting a 48-page story in an oversized 96-page hardcover. On the other hand, the art by Planetary co-creator John Cassaday pretty much warrants the package. He’s one of a handful of contemporary comic-book artists whose art looks better the larger it gets.

Taking place some time during the first 12 to 15 issues of the main Planetary comic book, Night on Earth brings a Batman-less Gotham City into the Planetary universe. Strange murders involving what appears to be multiversal shifting have been taking place, so Elijah Snow, Jakita Wagner and The Drummer meet up with Gotham City Planetary office workers Dick Grayson and Jasper (who looks a lot like the Joker) to find out what’s going on.

And then their prey, John Black, starts shifting portions of Gotham again — bringing the Batmen of different worlds (or, from out POV, different comic books and TV shows) into conflict with the Planetary team.

It’s all great, meta-fun as Batman and Gotham jump among several major versions from comics and television due to John Black’s multiversally shifting brainstorms. Cassaday renders each iteration in marvelous, telling detail, while Ellis gives us both the usual Planetary bickering (100-year-old Elijah Snow is especially grumpy throughout because of his previous experiences with Gotham, which even in the Planetary universe is a really screwed-up place) and some relevant character moments for Batman.

I hope that after the way-too-oversized Absolute Planetary editions are done we’ll get something more like this size for future reprints. Cassaday’s art really does look great. Warren Ellis’s proposal and script for the comic round out the package. Both are pretty interesting, though we’re told they were edited for mature language. I want the swears! Highly recommended.

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