All Over the Globe

Planetary #24


It’s a strange world.”

-Elijah Snow to Jakita Wagner, at the end of Planetary #1

Let’s keep it that way.”

-Jakita’s response

It’s a strange world, Mr. Snow. Never lose sight of it.”

-Melanctha, ‘scientist,’ after revealing the secrets of the world to snow in Planetary #21

The… questionable activities of the Four must be weighed against the technological exchange we have participated in since the 1950’s. I have managed to give the world things, despite the Four.”

-Ms. Hark, powerful woman, explaining the ways of the Four, a technology-hoarding, murderous group, in Planetary #16.

Crumbs, from a very rich table.”

-Snow, in response

I don’t know him anymore. We brought him back. But I swear it’s not him anymore.”

-Jakita, in despair following Snow’s blasting of a world of wonders out of the reach of humanity in order to disarm a member of the Four, at the conclusion of Planetary #20

You tried to bring me back by showing me a file detailing every disgusting thing these people ever did. What did you expect to happen?”

-Snow, defending himself earlier in that issue

Certainly you all have different functions. Certainly you are all self-aware and unique individuals. But here is the proof, down there in the factory floor of universal existence -- you are not naturally alive.”

-Melanctha, Planetary #21, dropping the bomb regarding Snow than those who share his birthday.

I’m back. The game’s afoot. And I want them to know it.”

-Snow, in Planetary #12, upon regaining more of his memory than ever before, and declaring war on the Four

You are created to do a job, Mr. Snow. And that job cannot simply be to hound four people who did you wrong to the ends of the earth. Look around you. When the ground of the underpinnings of life and death, laid beyond the tiniest spaces we can imagine, are this infinitely vast -- can your task be so small a thing?”

-Melanctha, #21, again.

Some century babies are defenders. Some are pioneers. Elijah saves things. I think he wants to save Ambrose Chase.”

-The Drummer, offering his opinions on Snow's purpose, in Planetary #23

What we really do is save things. We keep the world strange because that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

-Snow, to the young Drummer, in a flashback sequence a few pages before, after having saved the lad from doom

It wasn’t until after the war that I realized what I’d been cheated out of. When I met Randall Dowling. Strange world… you know what he said to me? ‘We‘ll punish them all. The liars and the cheats and the people who‘d steal your birthright. We will punish them all by becoming great.’”

-The (abridged) confession of William Leather, errant member of the Four, revealing his origins to Snow, in Planetary #22

Randall Dowling and Kim Suskind need to be stopped because they’re withholding glory from the human race. And because I‘m positive they’ll have the science I need to bring back Ambrose Chase. Melancta asked me if I knew what my task was. And it‘s simple.”

-Snow, to Jakita, in the current Planetary #24

Well, then. The game’s afoot. We just have to make sure we’re not the game. No more time for games at all.”

-Snow, at the end of that most recent of issues

Right. That’s how it is. See how those last two quotes act as something of a summary? That’s pretty much how the whole issue goes.

I recall Marc-Oliver Frisch a while back, in one of his articles at the Pulse analyzing monthly DC sales, expressing surprise over the drops in sales for Alan Moore’s Promethea over its final few issues. He wondered who could possibly decide to stop reading the series a few issues into the latest prospective trade, and only a handful of chapters from the ending? Everyone who’s waiting for the collection is already waiting. The rest are after the pamphlets. What would stop them? I certainly don’t know. I don’t know who’d want to stop reading Planetary now either; the final issue is coming up soon (#27, I believe), and those reading the serialization will probably stick with it for the long run. No matter what.

Which is fortunate when presented with an issue like this. I know the series is dropping the whole ‘new genre explored every issue’ thing for its big wrap-up, though I’d say there’s a fairly prominent ‘genre’ at work here - the recap! Yes, this issue is dedicated mainly to stringing together various bits of the core Planetary story, as Snow and his cohorts wander through the Planetary Guides in the basement of their Brazilian complex. There’s just one problem, an especially nasty one for those who like reading over their issues in advance of each tardy chapter of this saga - like I said before, it’s summary. I’m reading and reading, and there’s practically nothing new in this issue at all. Writer Warren Ellis simply has Snow wander around and repeat things that I expect many of us have already figured out, and will recall from our prior readings.

Sure, there’s the occasional moment of added clarity, such as where Snow draws parallels between the extra-mortal systems to protect the world (the century babies) and things like the Hong Kong soul engine. But much of the time he’s just reiterating stuff - the century babies have purposes, Snow’s purpose is to save things, that fits in with Planetary’s own mission of saving wonders, the Four are hoarding the weirdness of the world to seize the reins of power, Snow has saved each current member of Planetary, Snow needs to save former member Ambrose, Snow is a badass who’ll stop at nothing, the Four (or what’s left of them) are really mean.

I suppose we get a brief approximation of a character moment when Snow finally tells Jakita what he knows about her father (we found all that out back in issue #17), though the revelation is pretty much brushed away to make room for more reiterations of things that happened as far back as issue #1. Even the final 8 pages of the issue, which DC has been hyping up (“And if the last pages of this story don't leave you gasping for breath and begging for more, nothing will!”), amount to little more than their own, more action-oriented recap. The Four has over and over been proven to be ruthless bastards. Snow and everyone are 100% aware they’re ruthless bastards. And now it turns out… they’re willing to kill another 500 people to stop the team. Because, you see, they are ruthless bastards. It does its job in the plot, making the Four (er, the Two actually) a little more direct in their efforts to extinguish Our Heroes, and it gets even the more concerned members of our cast fired up and ready for vengeance and battle. But - after the Four’s consistant crimes against humanity (and others) - it just seems like stuff we’ve heard before. Of course, Snow doesn't seem impressed either. Hmm.

I guess this issue will serve a decent purpose for those who’d like a nice, tidy spot in their collection where many of the key points of the series can be contained and referenced without leafing through a stack of pamphlets and trades. I think it’ll be somewhat handy in trade form - a little blunt, smacking of hand-holding, but a measure taken to ensure that no reader gets lost while storming ahead. But damn if it isn’t hard to view Planetary in the reality it currently occupies: as the first new issue of this rapidly-concluding series to emerge in over half a year, and there’s nothing in it save for a map to various areas of the plot that nudges the story forward and offers little in the way of fresh insight.

I still enjoy Snow as a character, and I’d like to see where Ellis takes him; he knows he’s outside the course of human concern, he’s more than willing to sacrifice little bits of his ideology to take out a major threat, he delights in successful tortures and doesn’t listen to those around him, since he’s above mortal concern. And he’s doing that to save humanity from humans who’d put themselves above human concern too. It’s quite a fantasia of incomprehensible systems rising up to save us from ourselves, non-humans selected to equalize humanity in times of incredible suppression. But is Snow’s personality going to remain? Will Ambrose even know him when he saves him?

That’s what keeps me on this book, even through issues like this. It’s fortunate that the next installment is coming in only a month.