- Series: Planetary (Windstorm) (Book 2)
- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: WildStorm (December 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1563897644
- ISBN-13: 978-1563897641
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.2 x 10.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 31 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,043,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Planetary VOL 02: The Fourth Man (Planetary (Windstorm)) Paperback – December 1, 2001
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About the Author
Warren Ellis is the award-winning writer of Transmetropolitan, Planetary, The Authority, and the writer and co-creator of the graphic novel RED, which was the basis of two major motion pictures. He is also the author of the NYT-bestselling novels Gun Machine and Crooked Little Vein. His newest publication is the digital short-story single Dead Pig Collector, from FSG Originals.
His awards and recognitions include the NUIG Literary and Debating Society’s President’s Medal for service to freedom of speech, the Eagle Awards Roll Of Honour for lifetime achievement in the field of comics & graphic novels, the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire 2010, the Sidewise Award for Alternate History, and the International Horror Guild Award for illustrated narrative.
Ellis lives outside London, on the south-east coast of England, in case he needs to make a quick getaway.
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Characterization - Elijah Snow is the main character but he’s an unlikable grump. I think Ellis intended him to be a hard edge cynic that we can root for but instead he’s just a jerk. The Drummer is a smart ass but of the main three he’s the one I like the most and yet he’s continually verbally attacked by Snow and physically threatened. Jakita Wagner also seems to take pleasure in tormenting The Drummer.
Storytelling - It feels as if Ellis studied the writing of Grant Morrison and I mean the BAD Morrison not the Morrison who wrote All-Star Superman and Batman and Robin. I have no idea what’s going on as if the book left out half the pages. Things just happen randomly with seemingly no rhyme of reason. In the first story the three main characters are on a street corner looking for the spot where some guy named Jack Carter died. They find an after image of his corpse, or something, and Snow shouts, “the sneaky bastard faked his own death” Huh? Where did he come up with THAT? Then a over muscled superhero jumps from out of no where screaming about Hitler’s sex midgets and suddenly gets a shotgun blast through his belly from, I guess, Jack Carter who now looks like Grant Morrison himself with a bald head and trenchcoat. And this was only a few pages from the first issue. The rest of the issue didn’t make much more sense than that sequence.
Plot - There is no flow to the story. For a story about investigating the secret history of the 20th Century there is no investigation. Planetary simply arrive on the scene with no explanation. Mostly they stand around posing, trying to look cooler than the room then it’s story over. Everything is supposed to be secret and mysterious but weirdness seems to be everywhere and and we never see Planetary putting in any effort trying to track down leads. It’s like Ellis thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if Planetary was on Godzilla’s monster island’ and poof there they are as if Ellis couldn’t be bothered with any of the details. Whereas Ellis is clearly trying to go for writing that feels deep and poetic it often feels smug and pretentious and often lazy.
Creativity - I’d already pegged this series as inspired by Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in volume 1 but here the emulation only increases. We have secret super teams of famous characters or parodies of famous characters from the past. Ellis broadens it somewhat by including super hero parodies like the JLA and The Hulk in volume 1. Here we get additional DC parodies and what looks like a John Constantine ripoff as well as the Fantastic Four. But to get back to Moore’s League there are also appearances by Sherlock Holmes and Captain Nemo’s Nautilus and the emulation only increases in volume 3.
I read this book several a few years back and I certainly didn’t hate it or I wouldn’t have bought the next two volumes but I didn’t love it and clearly it didn’t make a huge impact on me. There is a big reveal at the end of volume 2 solving a mystery established at the beginning of volume 1 and it made so little impact on me the first time I read it that I forget the reveal until I read the book again yesterday. I am mildly curious to see where the series is going but repeated readings have not improved my experience. Maybe volume 3 will start tying things together and this is coming from someone who already READ volume 3. I just don’t remember what happened.
This volume contains a broad overview of the classic comics from Vertigo, a retelling of three of comics biggest heroes, and a throwback to 60's spy films, and the escalation of the central mystery of this series. What do the 4 want? What does planetary want? Find out inside.
Issue 7: There's a funeral for Jack Carter (rather similar to John Constantine.) This is used to comment on comics of the 1980's.
Issue 8: Back in the Atomic Age, nasty experiments were performed on human beings. Anna Hark (daughter of this universe's Fu Manchu) and Dowling (one of the Four) are involved.
Issue 9: Back in 1997, Planetary consisted of Jakita, the Drummer, a man called Ambrose who could warp physics, and a mysterious "Fourth Man." On a mission, Ambrose is critically wounded, and then disappears.
Issue 10: We see the Planetary universe's versions of Superman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman. But not for long.
Issue 11: A flashback to 1969, where Elijah Snow met a man by the name of John Stone (James Bond?) agent of S.T.O.R.M. (later to become Stormwatch.) Back in present time, John Stone helps Elijah recover some of his memories.
Issue 12: Elijah decides to fight the Four.
Maintains the outstanding quality of Volume 1. Read that one first!