On to issue #10 tomorrow?
At this rate the book coverage will the done by mid Summer…
How about the Batman crossover?
I think it was published between #15 and #16 so I guess it makes sense to do it then, although I don’t really know the series well enough to know whether there’s a better time to fit it in. Any suggestions?
I really enjoyed issue #10 despite the fact it does very little to move the overarching story on.
The fact that the three, instantly recognisable, artefacts have been kept but that the outside world has no idea what they represent does show just how powerful the organisation that Plantery are dealing with actually is.
I enjoyed the slightly different take on the origin stories that we already knew or had at least a little familiarity with.
I was surprised by how much the aesthetic was changed for the Superman story arch and I wonder whether that was to make the final scenes slightly less harrowing for the reader or if it was just pushing the this is a different but very familiar universe idea.
I found the WW piece to be the most telling of the power that the organisation has. Directly countering what had been said about the outside world not knowing about them when in fact they were so aware that they would be killing WW as she stepped foot outside the shield for the first time.
It was also good to see some of the background members of Planetary doing their thing and giving linking this to the events of issue 6 during what at first glance is just incidental dialogue.
The final page revelation is, like the call back at the start of the issue, almost lost entirely as more incidental dialogue.
Issue #10 was among the saddest things I ever read. It was all about the aspects of humanity I hate most, for they have hurt me the most. That whole me/us-first attitude.
This is why we can’t have nice things!
Planetary #10: Ternion
I honestly mostly like this issue. I say mostly because it’s really a great Elseworlds piece. Each of the three little anthological stories that are contained in the issue are done incredibly well. Much like the initial “The Four” issue a while back, it can really serve as a one-off “What If” issue. Something anyone with an inkling of the pop cultural madness of DC can read and completely understand. The But here is that while I commend the issue in that it, it does come off a slightly silly due to it.
Having these facsimilies of three well known Leaguers, and some wordplay/ironic dramedy thrown in for good measure - really undercuts much of the horror. It is still astoundingly done and I agree with @Miqque about the “me/us” thing, While I also think much of it is a bit of a commentary on commercialization or even collecting in comicsdom as a whole. These giant beings of power, ideas, being siphoned off and commodified in some storage bin.
Also, I totally think the WW analogue was going to kill off all the men. Joking, but the wording was a bit weird there haha. Great issue.
In many ways it feels like this issue follows on directly from #6, picking up where that issue left off with Planetary’s discovery and infiltration of The Four’s facility. It takes an unexpected direction though, and one which I think works even if it isn’t wholly satisfying.
On some level it’s a bit disappointing that these analogues of Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern hew so close to the originals, because it feels like Ellis isn’t really saying anything new about them. However, by doing that, he is saying something about them: that these concepts are so pure and perfect and endlessly recyclable (like the best myths and legends) that they have an eternal, magical quality to them.
Also, by having the Four unceremoniously kill them off, it immediately sets the world of Planetary that much further apart from the regular DCU, and makes the Four that more hateable. (I’ve seen some theories that the issue also acts as a metaphor for Marvel’s Silver Age characters coming in and blowing away the old DC heroes in the early 1960s, but I think that might be a bit of a stretch. It’s an interesting reading though.)
The lack of an on-panel conclusion to the Wonder Woman segment is a bit confusing though. Did they just run out of pages?
Cassaday does some brilliant work here. It’s not easy to do a new version of a classic hero that both makes them immediately recognisable and puts your own stamp on them to make them something other, but he strikes the perfect balance here. I particularly love the ‘blue lantern’ council - that gorgeous splashpage is one of the images from this book that has been lodged in my head ever since my first reading of it.
Snow’s reaction to it all is interesting, too. Does he intuit exactly what happened, or just understand that the Four were involved and very bad things happened? There’s also a bit of a cliffhanger leading us towards what we can expect for next issue, which is fairly unusual for Planetary so far.
Anyone else want in on #10 before we move on to #11?
I’m moving it on.
That cover just screams “Steranko!”, doesn’t it?
Yes. Gloriously so.
Oh god! Poor Nick Fury!
OK, getting caught up. I’m going to skip issue 8 because I don’t think there’s much else to cover past what everyone else said.
So this issue is a bit of a follow-up to issue 7 in that we’re in Vertigo territory again, but rather than the DCU-tinged side of things, Ellis is looking at Grant Morrison’s genre and reality-bending work, most obviously The Invisibles (and even more obviously Dark Science, the first four issues of volume 2). This being Planetary, there’s a twist of course. While The Invisibles is all about fiction changing the real world, Planet Fiction is pulling something from fiction into the ‘real’ world.
The Invisibles references continue in Ambrose Chase’s introduction, his line to the guard “I swear, you’re all the damn same. Bet you joined the army so’s you could have someone remember your own first name, huh?” calls back to the general theme in The Invisibles that the establishment is about subsuming your personal will to that of the Outer Church, but it also contrasts to Best Man Fall - Volume 1, issue 12 - which shows the life of the soldier King Mob kills in volume 1, issue 1.
The big story for this issue, though is what it implies about Planetary’s history. Let’s recap:
Planetary issues 1-8 take place in 1999
At some point between issues 1 and 3, Jakita tells Snow that nobody she knows has admitted to being in Planetary for more than 4 years
In issue 3, Michelle says she’s been in Planetary for six years, which both Jakita and Snow pick up on.
In issue 1, Jakita says she’ll tell Snow what happened to the prior Third Man when they figure it out themselves - presumably this is Chase and his disappearance at the end of the issue.
In issue 9, we get the following new information
Ambrose was introduced to the concepts Planetary stands for as a child.
Ambrose becomes the Third Man in 1994, in a meeting where he discovers that the Fourth Man is someone he knows. (And the Fourth Man likes white suits)
The Fourth Man was missing in action in 1997
Elijah Snow has never heard of Ambrose Chase
Jakita was already a member of Planetary when Ambrose Chase became the Third Man, five years before issue 1
So, people have been lying. And Jakita is one of them. This issue is a flashback, and the events here are ones that for the first time, Elijah Snow is not privy to. We, the readers now know more about the world of Planetary than Snow does, and it changes our perception of what has gone before, and what will follow.
So this issue’s references are pretty straightfoward - it’s a take on the origins of Superman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman, twisted to they’re all killed by The Four rather than become heroes.
The main points of interest here are the ties back to the general Wildstorm continuity - the Green Lantern analogue is a Lamplighter, as seen in Stormwatch Volume 2’s A Finer World arc. Furthermore, the lamp that Dowling extracts from the Lamplighter’s corpse is sold or traded to Henry Bendix, who then presumably uses it for the Stormwatch Lamplighter. Though somehow it winds up back in Four Voyagers Plaza by the year 2000.
In points to expand the general storyline, this is the first appearance of Randall Dowling in the flesh, rather than just as a photo in Drums’ slideshow.
Also, Dowling has something called a Planetary Guide, dating back to 1949. The context suggests this is a book. Assuming it’s published by Planetary, this proves the organisation is far older than even issue 9 suggested. And as with issue 9, this is information that the reader has and Snow doesn’t.
But while we’ve seen the tragic lives of the owners of that lamp, bracelet and blanket, Snow’s just been ruminating on those objects, and it’s given him the inspiration and impetus to make his move. He’s off to see an old friend, and as Nash notes, he’s smiling like something’s finally made sense to him.
I think this is about the point I caught on to what Ellis might be doing, then went through a couple of “Aw, naw, he wouldn’t!” moments - which is exactly what he did.
Secret organizations, if well-constructed, deconstruct like an onion. All the outside layers exist to protect the core. This is where Snow has to depend on his basic personality - caustic and grumpy and not happy with too damned much. (I understand this. I call it “waking up”.) Even though he cannot use a sequential memory base, he can observe and process. He’s seen some bizarre stuff, heard more. Things are not as they seem, and when we find several distracting layers it should not come as any surprise to find other distracting layers.
Amazing how this reflects today’s political events.
As @Miqque noted, this cover, and the opening flashback are rendered in the style of Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury comics from the 60s. And as @Chris noted, that’s Dum-Dum Duggan getting shot in the first panel of the book. And Bride is reminiscent of Madame Hydra.
Keeping up the gadget-strewn superspy thing, Stone gets in a post-mortem quip after he immolates some of Bride’s “children”. This being Planetary, their deaths are rather gruesome to highlight just how sociopathic those quips can be,
There’s also a line of dialogue that suggests Stone knows Anna Hark,
There’s a few more WSU references going on here, with Stone calling for backup from STORM Watch, and the Last Shot bar from Ellis’ run on Stormwatch showing up. Also, this might be the last we see of connections to the WSU in Planetary. It increasingly becomes its own thing from here on out.
The twist in the 1969 chunk of the issue is that while we’d usually get a story to which Planetary are observers after the fact, here Snow was actually there, and was integral in saving Stone’s life. This is a significant change which indicates that this issue is the point where the dominoes begin to fall, and Planetary begins the shift to the second half of the story.
And so we move to the year 2000, and Stone and Snow meet up at the Last Shot, and we learn quite quickly that Snow and William Leather clashed as early as 1959 - two years before the Artemis mission. And Stone then sets about answering the one of the questions Leather asked Snow at the end of book 1.
Who benefits from Snow’s lack of memory? The Four do.
But as always, that answer leads to more questions - why would the Four not just kill Planetary? In Dowling’s own words: It’s a game.
A couple of months ago, Stone met someone with a Planetary Guide from 1931.
And then the floodgates open. We see snippets of Snow exploring, fighting, loving, learning. This is not the man we’ve come to know over the last book and a half - we’ve seen a curmudgeon, a man who’s fascinated by the world but also tired. A man who’s been hiding away in the desert with only a shit diner with a bitchy waitress for company, and was happy with that for the longest time. The Snow we see across these two pages is vibrant and exciting, throwing himself into danger.
And the Snow we see on those last two pages is different again. He’s shrewd,he instantly grabs onto Stone saying he was doing consultant work for the Hark Corporation earlier in the issue - which Stone acknowledges as Snow being ‘back to normal’.
And this new old Elijah Snow knows who the Fourth Man is.
And again Ellis takes another arquetipe to make a comment of an entire Genre.
In this Case; The Spy novels and comics as we know them.
Of course, we have an array of diverse flashbacks that start to fill in the blanks (the blocks) on Elijah´s Memory; but i belive that what the story says about Stone as a character and the spy stories as a genre is, as important, or, at least, interesting as the rest.
With a lifespan of more than a century, Stone (one of the Century Babies?) is the figure of the “Master Spy”, and (Within the comic) he has lived trough three stages of it´s history.
First; We have the stage of comic strips about Spies, with characters like Agent X (or even Dick Tracy can be read as a spy comic), fighting against the terror that infiltrated the country in the period between wars.
Then: We have the “Crazy Gadget” fase (patent Pending), with obvious ties to, James Bond, Flint, Harry Palmer (to an extent) and even Modesty Blaise. A fase full of the most Outrageous ideas, from the villains AND even the Heroes. Where the Spy genre turn into a Game where is relatively easy to know who is who in the story.
(It always Cracks me up how “The bride” Starts the comic killing Steranko´s Nick Fury)
And Finally: We have a more “Grounded” versión of the spy stories, wich, obvioulsy predates in the works of John Le Carre and Graham Greene. Stories with no clear Black and White, where the heroes are “Normal men”. Grey People, The analyst, The assets, The people that risk his sometimes not knowing that they are merely pawns in something greater… something that maybe even the ones on the Top don´t know for sure.
What makes Ellis work so appealing is how he manages of “Blend” all this types of narratives, and, despirte of Beign a James Bond (Nick Fury) analog, he has the mind of an analist and knows how the world of Wetwork, covert ops, and brainwashed people works.
Stone has survide all that, and as Elijah, he is an expert in the secret history of HIS world, the spy world; Thus, making him the Key to unlock Elijah hidden memories.
Not trying to be grammar police and know it’s not your base language, but it’s really important to spell “analyst” with a y.