Planetary Book 3: Leaving the Twentieth Century

Leaving the Twentieth CenturyOrder this bookStory: The Planetary organization moves the pieces into place for its counter-assault against the Four, drawing resources from its knowledge of the world’s secret history. Also included are several episodes from Elijah Snow’s past, including his discovery of a conspiracy to save the world in 1919, his adventures in the hidden city of Opak-Re, and his pivotal early encounter with the Four.

Review: Planetary has always had a very episodic structure, and that becomes even more prominent in this third collection. Three of the six chapters are tales from Elijah Snow’s past, and the other three have a heavy emphasis on flashbacks. As a result, the series loses a little bit of urgency here; at the end of the second collection, I had the feeling that the conflict between the Four and Planetary was about to get serious. I had the same feeling at the end of the third, which is a little disappointing. That said, the individual stories in this volume are rather good and do shed some useful light on the backstory of certain characters, while also bringing in threads established earlier in the series. So although it does seem that the book is a circuitous path that leads right back where it started, the journey’s worth taking. Read More

Planetary Book 2: The Fourth Man

The Fourth ManOrder this bookStory: Ever since he joined the Planetary organization, Elijah Snow has helped uncover the secret history of the world – but there a few private mysteries he’d like to solve. What is Planetary’s real mission? Why do others seem to know more about his life than he does? And who is the Fourth Man that bankrolls and orchestrates the team’s adventures? Elijah finally tracks down the truth – and when he does, the rules of the game change completely.

Review: Remember how cool I said “Planetary: All Over The World” is? There’s lots more fun to be had in “The Fourth Man,” as pieces fall into place and the book’s central conflict comes into view. Ellis does his usual fine job with characterization and dialogue this time out, using flashbacks to explore the history of the Planetary field team (including Elijah’s predecessor, Ambrose Chase) and their relationships with each other. There are the bitter, sarcastic one-liners (no one does cantankerous like Warren Ellis) but also a lot of warmth. There’s one shot of Ambrose holding up his daughter in which he says, “World, this is my daughter. I want you two to be good to each other. Because it’s a strange world out there, and you both need all the help you can get.” It’s a great line, one that sums up the wonder and optimism that are a part of this world, regardless of the craziness of its more twisted corners. Read More

Planetary Book 1: All Over the World and Other Stories

All Over the WorldOrder this bookStory: Elijah Snow is almost a hundred years old, a witness to many of the strange and awesome events that make up the secret history of the twentieth century. Now he spends his time hiding out in the middle of nowhere, until a woman named Jakita Wagner offers him a million dollars a year to join Planetary, a group of ‘mystery archaeologists’ in need of Elijah’s experience. As part of the Planetary field team, Elijah investigates gateways to alternate Earths, mutant Japanese monsters, the vengeful spirit of a Hong Kong cop, and more before turning his attention to Planetary’s opposite number, the Four, who have been manipulating the world for their own ends for decades…and who seem to know more about Elijah than Elijah himself.

Review: Planetary is one of the most addicting stories I’ve ever read, and one of the few serialized comics I make a point of buying on an issue-by-issue basis anymore. The series is not just a great adventure story with terrific characters, outstanding dialogue and stunning artwork. It’s also a commentary and exploration of the twentieth century’s adventure fiction, including comics, monster movies, pulp novels and more. Read More