OK, gonna make an effort for this book club!
So in a lot of ways the cover is a mission statement for the book. The logo is oversized and askew, presaging that the look of the covers will change massively from issue to issue, and it hides the Snowflake looming over the characters. Compositionally the positioning and posing of the characters says a lot about them - Jakita is up front and pointing towards the centre of the image, as befits her role as the muscle of the team. the Drummer is hunched over, showing that he's somewhat introspective and hides his true depth behind his braggadocio. And Snow, the elder (and the true power behind Planetary) stands elevated and behind them, trying to blend into the background.
The start of the book is divided into 4-page sequences which introduce and illustrate concepts moving forwards:
The first sequence does much of the heavy lifting to establish Snow's character. He's old and grumpy, his powers have an ambient effect, and he's got an acid wit (the line about getting Jakita a coffee just like his). Also, we see a properly oriented Planetary logo on the helicopter picks them up.
The second shifts from the grubby diner and its harsh lighting to the opulence of Snow's hotel, and first gives us a quick précis of Planetary (we get the first mention of the Fourth Man, Snow, and the prior Third Man, who is,of course Ambrose Chase) - one thing that dates the series is the mention of Bill Gates as a possible Fourth Man. Fast forward a few years and that would have been Steve Jobs. It then goes on to introduce The Drummer, who's appearance is based on John Cassaday himself, and is set up immediately to be a foil to Snow. Where he and Jakita can have a civil relationship, he and Drums are snarking and insulting each other from the get-go. The first thing Snow does is make fun of his name, and then his abilities - so The Drummer throws a cola bottle at the back of Snow's head.
The Third and final 4-page sequence does the last of the setup for the book. We get an insight into Jakita's personality and abilites, how their missions will go, and then lead into the rest of the story. As Issue 12 will point out, there's a Planetary Journal in one of the trophy cases which Jakita spirits away before Snow can spot it.
The back half of the book is Doc Brass' story. He and his companions are all analogues of pulp heroes. Brass is obviously Doc Savage, His Lordship is Tarzan, and Hark is Fu Manchu, but the other characters are somewhat lost to history: Edison is Tom Swift, The Aviator is G-8, Jimmy is The operator, and while it's assumed that The Spider is The Shadow, he's actually going by the character's original name,
The conflict between Brass & co and the otherdimensional attackers is obviously a metaphor for the pulp tradition giving way to modern superheroes - while their invasion of the Wildstorm universe in 1945 failed, in the real world it succeeded. Of course in the real world it was a lateral shift - pulp magazines gave way to science fiction, and it's more that superheroes are their legacy than there was ever a conflict between the two genres.
But again, it's setting up the book. The mission statement for Planetary is to recontextualise the tropes and classics of SF, pulp and superheroes in a modern framework, and it does so by showing the dawn of superheroes.
Now, while I enjoy Planetary, I feel that this issue shows both the strengths and weaknesses of the books. By having mostly 1-issue stories, you've got 22 pages in which to set up the new trope and resolve the investigation, and with Ellis' writing style is means that there's not much meat to the bones, and less so in an issue where the first 12 pages are setting up the book in general. It's a great idea for a comic, and while it mostly works, there's always a little frustration in here.