Starting with the cover, we're into full pastiche territory here. The cover's meant to invoke pulp magazines, of course, and we'll return to this mode of cover more than once before the end of the book's run.
We're back into Ellis' economy of storytelling here, with the first 5 pages setting up a wealth of information. The first thing is that an office block has been destroyed right down to the foundations, without even chipping the glass on its immediate neighbours - to the point that it's deemed safe to be in one of those neighbouring buildings.
The second is that the destroyed building belonged to the Hark Corporation, the first modern-day reference to anyone from Brass' companions.
The third is that the cleanup crew are covering up the remains, which seems odd,
The fourth, and most important to the current story is Jim Wilder's character. He's very close to Anna Hark, he's an orphan, and he's selfless to the point of chasing after a mugger to retrieve heart pills. He's a hero, even if he doesn't know it.
The next five pages set up the fantastic elements of the story, presaged by Snow, Drums and Jakita's appearance at the bottom of page 6. Of course, the cleanup crew is a cover for Planetary's actions, they've uncovered an ornate plinth in the shape of a lightning bolt, which reacts to Wilder crossing it by teleporting him away. Note that the mugger runs around it despite being on a straight course for the plinth in panel 1 of page 7
The scene on page 9 is one of my favourite Warren Ellis funny moments. the Drummer jumping on the plinth, Jakita's world-weary commentary and her bickering with Snow are all fried gold, topped off with the Drummer being flung away and getting up with smoke rising off him.
Page 10 is partially there to remind up that Axel Brass is still around, as much to hint that he's going to be back in issue 5 as to remind us of his link to Hark.
Wilder's story reads like so many superhero origin stories, I keep thinking of Captain Britain myself, but it could any number of heroes to be fair. @DaveWallace called out the reuse of panels as a minor niggle, but I quite liked it, especially the full page of Wilder inside the incredibly gothic Shiftship reprinted as a quarter of a page. This section also revisits the Snowflake and suggests that it's an array of parallel universes, with the Bleed serving as the walls between them. Not hugely relevant here, but it does tie-in to Wildstorm and the second-last Stormwatch arc.
It's worth noting as well that the last page of Wilder's flashback has 4 panels in the shape of a lightning bolt, calling back to the plinth and, of course DC's Captain Marvel.
The final five-page sequence returns us to the hospital in the present day, Wilder brings the team aboard the shiftship and Jakita attempts to leave him out in the cold only to be stymied by Snow. I'm not going to talk about it now, but might revisit it after issue 12.
Overall the only real issues with this story are that it just sorta ends again. Snow talking to himself in the last panel is clunky as hell, where another page or two would have allowed that scene to breathe, and there's plenty of pages that could hev been truncated by the removal of repetitive panels. (and not just the recycled pages!)
Overall this is a vast improvement for the book. The story is paced better but the end remains a bit pat. Wilder's transformation is a reference to Captain Marvel, but the issue itself is more looking at the common trope of the human granted a supehuman alternate form rather than directly ape one specific example, which helps keep it its own thing, a problem Planetary will face quite frequently.