John Wilder, private detective for a huge software company, trod on an ancient artifact discovered beneath the foundations of a bombed-out building belonging to his employers. Seconds later, he was no longer there. This is the tale of where he went!
Planetary #4 takes the series into the majestic with the emergence of a superhero crafted from the stars, giving the Planetary team an opportunity to do more than observe and learn, and giving direction to the series in the process. While it follows a similar one-shot fashion as the three issues before, we are starting to see an overarching narrative take shape that brings in a very welcome sense of urgency.
It’s no surprise that I love the archaeologists of the future angle of Planetary and the first few pages get right to the heart of this directive. A mysterious alien object has drawn the team’s attention and it isn’t long until someone comes along and throws everything into chaos. That someone is Jim Wilder. In pursuit, he steps on the object and is instantly transported to a magnificent “shiftship” that takes us back to the very first issue. This ship is designed to sail “The Bleed”, the channels which course between the universes of the Snowflake. Yes, the Snowflake that Axel Brass risked so much to bring into the light. This moment was a jaw dropper for sure, and quickly made me more interested in Wagner’s experiences than what the Planetary team is dealing with. Luckily, the creative team understands this, because the majority of the issue is centered on the Wagner and the emergence of a new superhero through this alien ship.
The most noticeable influences of this story are from the original Captain Marvel and the powers of Shazam that were bestowed upon him. Wagner’s agreement to help this alien ship grants him both a mission to find more people to get the ship operating is torn from the struggles of Billy Batson and the immortal elders. However, within the context of the Planetary series, this character brings an objective into focus for Elijah in particular. Up to this point, they have been mostly nonparticipative in using their knowledge to help prevent bad things from happening, but in Planetary #4 we see Elijah finally taking the step to be proactive.
With a clear vision of the Snowflake universes and The Bleed, a ship to traverse it and a quickly growing cast of characters from superheroes to an organization to unite them, the series feels like it’s finding its footing in a big way. This issue might not have much action at all, but the revelations are incredibly intriguing. The sheer scope is something to behold, and the developments of both the world and the characters that inhabit it are near perfection. Sure, The Drummer is mostly annoying right now, but Elijah and Jakita are uncovering something with awesome potential.
At this point, the artwork has hit a consistent level of great execution and Planetary #4 is no different. Ali Fuchs pulls a lot of weight in this issue with the lettering just because of the exposition heavy panels. The modern panel layouts like the bolt page show that there is a uniqueness to the series that is difficult to replicate. Wagner’s costume design is immaculate, only outdone by the environment he finds himself in. It’s the type of book that can be recommended on visuals alone.
Ultimately, Planetary #4 could be one of the most important issues yet, defining the proactive stance the team intends to take and bringing in a superhero flair that has been noticeably lacking up to this point. It’s a spectacular progression that is difficult to criticize. It looks like great things are coming for Planetary.
Planetary #4 delivers brilliant visuals while defining a more proactive role for the team in the future, helping to bring some much welcomed direction for the series with the help of a few stunning revelations.
Planetary #4: Stop Watching Things and Start Doing Things
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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