okay, I'll give some introduction first :P
Planetary and Sandman are two comic book serii (the plural of series). (*watches the number of people still reading this drop in half*) Sandman is relatively old, while Planetary is quite new. Also, Planetary has the distinction of being a one-man indie job, which is mighty impressive. (writing, drawing, coloring, *everything* - one guy.)
Sandman is over, as sad as it is - while there are offshoots, the main Sandman series has been completed and bound into ten volumes. Planetary is most definitely not over - they're up to two volumes (both smaller than most, if not all, Sandman books) and it's just barely getting started.
Now here's a little history. A year ago or so (has it really been that long? sheesh, it has) I got introduced to Sandman by heronblue. And, well, it rocked beyond all reason. So I suggested it to a friend, and he said, yeah, it's really good! But Planetary is better. And naturally I was a bit skeptical, because this is like saying "well, okay, yes, The Beatles are good. But *some other band name here* is better!" And I finally got around to reading Planetary a few weeks ago.
And, let's be blunt here - Planetary is drop-dead gorgeous and truly astonishing. It's one of the - if not the - best example of its genre I've ever seen. The plot sucks you in, I've mentioned how good the art is - it's great.
It's not Sandman.
Sandman was . . . genre-creating, perhaps. It's the kind of thing that spawns cliches right and left. ("Well, I finally got around to reading Macbeth . . . I didn't like it. It was just a bunch of cliches strung together.") Death as a cute perky goth girl - that's Sandman. And Sandman was different. It was a totally new way of looking at it. In Sandman, there's the Endless - seven beings (their true nature is never explained, or more likely, not explainable). Destiny, Death, Dream, Despair, Destruction, Desire, Delirium. And these are the Seven Greats. This alone should tell you something - how many serieses use such a strange group? If you were told to come up with seven primary forces in the world, it wouldn't be these seven, likely. Especially because the Big Three is Destiny, Death, and Dream. Destiny and Death, sure, but who would rank Dream all the way up there?
It's new. It's different.
The entire comic book continues this thread. I'm not sure how to explain the byplay between all the gods. The only way I can put it is that, yes, they're all all-powerful, and they're all the incarnations you'd expect. Thor's around, of course, as is Eve. And others. And . . . they're not *gods*, they're *characters*. (I'd say people, but that would be wrong.) And yet somehow they're not any more or any less important than the random humans that populate the world.
Planetary is wonderful. You've got your big international . . . not company, exactly, but organization. A small group of, well, superheros, who travel the world discovering the strange things that inhabit it and fight evil. From another dimension! With enormous dead beasts on abandoned islands, and, ooh, let's throw in some giant ants! Everyone loves giant ants!
That's the problem. There's *nothing new*. It's all stuff I've seen before. Yes, it's got some new concepts, and some new treatments of old concepts - the spaceship, the dimension gizmo. But I can't explain any more of those. Because Planetary is the plot, and the characters, and nothing more. If I summarized Planetary for you, the only reason you'd have to read it would be the art, and maybe the first-hand experience. If I summarized Sandman, you'd still want to read it - geez, some of the books *start* by summarizing everything that will occur in the book! The purpose of the Sandman books is to *experience* it - because it's just plain worth it. You can't summarize Dream in five sentences. You couldn't even do that at the end of book 2. Maybe at the end of book 1, but it would take some work. You could try, yes, and you might be *reasonably* close. But I can summarize any character I've seen in Planetary in a sentence or two, mostly by referring to ancient architects with minor variations.
And perhaps I'm selling Planetary short here - geez, it's certainly not bad! I'll be there right at the front wanting more, because, really, it *is* spectacular. We didn't go see the X-Men Movie because we expected it to be a life-changing experience, we went for the cool special effects and plot twists. And Planetary delivers those in abundance - in ultra-abundance. But how many people are going to rank the X-Men Movie among the best movies ever? It doesn't *say* anything.
And I guess, until I read more Planetary (which I really really want to do! that series is fun :D) that I'll probably hold that opinion. But, who knows - it might get even better in the future :)
The only other thing that bugs me . . . the short short short plot arcs. There aren't plot arcs. It's generally one issue per plot chunk. With an overreaching plot. But, oh well. I'll be looking forward to the future on that one, most definitely.
I may write more later tonight. We shall see.