So, we’re back into familiar planetary territory, extended references to a theme or genre of cult fiction, around which we get basically a sketch of a story.
In turn we see Castle Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes, and Dracula, with references to The Invisible Man (this time the original book rather than the 60’s movie from issue 8), Robur the Conqueror, and Carnacki the Ghost-Finder (who, oddly enough dates from 1910). The Sigsand Manuscript, which Snow pulls out of Holmes’ bookcase is another reference to Carnacki, The Open Conspiracy which Holmes refers to is an actual book by HG Wells, a non-fiction egalitarian manifesto.
As Planetary issue 1 was about the end of the pulp era and the dawn of superheroes, issue 13 is the end of the early SF, horror and fantasy stories of the Victorian era as they give way to the 20th Century. Snow, as a Century Baby is a pretty clear metaphor here, That Snow learns from Holmes is the difference between his interaction with the prior generation and Brass’ one with the next - he creates a synthesis instead of a protracted conflict, but he does this from a position of power, like he did in keeping Jakita and Drums off-balance last time.
It’s worth keeping Planetary’s internal chronology in mind here. We learned in issue 12 that the first Planetary Journal was published in 1925. Snow found Holmes and Dracula in 1920, and Holmes died five years thereafter. So that first journal was published the same year Holmes died. Maybe this was part of the open conspiracy?
Structurally, we’re tied back into issues 11 and 12, where we’ve seen the “To be a Detective then, my boy?” panel before. Book 3 is titled Leaving the 20th Century, and we’re going to do that by way of the Secret History of Elijah Snow, having been given the Secret History of the World in book 1, and the Secret History of The Four in book 2. There are some flashbacks left to be unravelled over the course of the next five issues, before the future beckons.
As Sherlock Holmes says: “This is your Century, and it needs you”. In The Four, Snow has a major piece of unfinished business left from the 20th century before the 21st century can come to fruition.