Saturday, June 11, 2011

Telling Stories about the Stories behind Stories

I first read Warren Ellis' Planetary in trade paperback format, more than a decade after its initial release. It is about a group of three people who call themselves the "Archaeologists of the impossible". They uncover the secrets of the pop culture and superhero genre and uncover the planet's secret history which is being horded by their rival four superhumans (who are based on the comics' Fantastic Four). The subjects range from the real story behind Japan's movie monsters (Gojira, Mothra) to an untold origin story of Lone Ranger and Tonto, to a what-if story of Superman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. There are stories which tells about a Galactus-like character and his demise; story about real technology behind Thor's hammer; the origin of Captain Marvel; a tale of John Constantine and Spider Jerusalem and many more fantastic ones.

The whole series basically suggests that all stories in the comic books and pop culture phenomena of the past century actually happened due in some part to the machinations of The Four. It is a very highly recommended read. If you haven't already, you should go to the bookstore now and get it. It's a must read. I can't reiterate it enough. But I don't really want to discuss or review this masterpiece work right here as it had been already reviewed with flying colors elsewhere on the net.

In the series we get a glimpse of the global Planetary organization. We learn that there are Planetary branches all over the world; Hongkong, Japan, Brazil etc. Definitely there are stories on these local places themselves that are worth a look even without the original 3 being involved. I'm thinking there should be some kind off spin-off adventure based on the original one. And I'm sure it would be great. Let Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon handle the Brazil Planetario (a dream come true). Or Yoshitaka Amano (one can wish) draw the Japanese Planetary branch. These countries are rich in stories that can be starting point for amazing Planetary stories.

In particular, the Philippines has a lot of material that can be used for this kind of stuff. In fact there is one comic book that immediately comes to mind, Trese. Created by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo, Trese tells the story of a paranormal investigator aptly named Alexandra Trese who takes on cases with supernatural taste. They encounter aswang, nuno sa punso, tikbalang and many other creatures based from Philippine folklore.

But in some cases Trese and the gang also get to cross with "real" (as opposed to folk tale supernatural) beings. They meet Robinson, the rumored snake under a city mall's basement who allegedly eat customers that go inside one of the fitting rooms. There's a story about Darna, or whatever happened to her after all these years. They also tell the story behind the scenes of a rags-to-riches actress from those prolific 80's movie drama.

Going back to the original topic, Planetary's Philippine branch could be named Pandaigdig ("Daigdig" = Filipino word for planet, "Pan- or Pang-" = Filipino preposition to indicate purpose, i.e. for the planet.) The Pandaigdig crew (come to think of it, Alexandra Trese can become one of the three, she can be the Jakita Wagner of the group) would tackle the secret stories behind the stories.

There could be stories that serves as an analysis of the archetypical Bida-Kontrabida synergy on Filipino action films. There could be stories about the old slapstick comedy of Palito and how he was really a Filipino secret spy during the World War 2. There could be an issue that will encompass the golden age of Filipino komiks and would have cameos by Captain Barbell, Darna, Lastikman, Panday and others. There could be a retelling of the real story behind the Edsa 1, 2 and 3 and how it was really a machination of someone more sinister and supernatural in nature. It could involve Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio, our national heroes who turn out to be more than just heroes. An appearance by Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao (Is he called Pacman because he made a Pact with someone?)

End wishlist.

Anyway, I think Trese Book 4 is coming out soon (November I think) and I am eagerly anticipating it's release. It's another highly recommended book and everyone should read it. Also, Budjette Tan writes another comics title, Precinto 13 and it's another great read which focus on Captain Guerrero's side of the story, a la Gotham Central by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka. I hope it gets included in the next Trese book.

End story.


  1. Hi there!

    Another Ellis fan, I see! :-)

    Loved your ideas for the Planetary spin-off books, to be done by creators from those countries!

    Ahhh... if only Ellis would agree to such a thing.

    Have you read his Global Frequency? I've been hoping that he'd allow other writers and artists to continue that series.

    And yes, Planetary was a major influence in the creation of Trese :-)

    Oh, funny you should mention that certain Pinoy boxer...


  2. Wow! I totally missed your post about the boxer's story!

    It will be included in book 4, right? I can't wait :)

  3. I'd love to see a Planetary/Trese crossover, rather than just a Planetary branch here. The interaction between the jet-setting Planetary crew and the mean streets Trese gang would make for interesting chemistry.

    I wasn't surprised to read Budjette's post above that "Planetary was a major influence in the creation of Trese". I came to Planetary from reading Trese and the similarity of the books is probably the reason I took to Ellis' series so quickly. I'd love to see more fantasy books like these two.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...