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Planetary #26

Posted: Monday, October 30, 2006
By: Shawn Hill



ďThe Final Piece of the PuzzleĒ

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: John Cassaday

Publisher: DC Comics/Wildstorm


Plot: Elijah has one last offer to make to the 4. Drummer and Jakita donít like the sound of that, either.

Comments: I donít know if thatís the actual title I list up above. Itís more a description of Cassadayís marvelous final cover, which confirms Mr. Snow as a master manipulator on a worldwide scale. But then weíve suspected that for a very long time.

Am I underwhelmed? How could I not be, a little bit, after 7 years and only 26 issues? That makes this more or less a quarterly comic, not counting various excellent side projects featuring Batman, the JLA and the Authority. Ellis has already pulled out his biggest stops, months ago. A series that began as yet another way of looking at the archetypal JLA from another angle (much like the Authority), has long ago moved beyond that referent to take on other pulpy icons like: James Bond, Asian mafia and sword and sorcery, westerns, Jules Verne, les FrŤres LumiŤres, Superman, Paradise Island, the Hulk, Japanese monster islands, 50s atomic/communist paranoia, THX-1138, Rendezvous with Rama, Thor, Miracleman, Alien and Tarzanís myths of colonialism.

And each time, Ellis has hit it out of the park. I canít think of a weak issue of this series, not one that made a misstep or contradicted what had gone before. Each one was a little gem. The memorable characters we met along the way, many of them doomed by the predatory evil of the 4, leave a poignant resonance and an air of irrevocable loss to the entire series. In epic scale, Ellis never forgets the fragile, small, physical human place that suffering really counts: our bodies, our lives and our fleeting lifespans.

The real crime of the 4 is setting themselves up as destroyer gods, rather than as benevolent detached parents. The parent model is the one Ellis has chosen for his hero; Snow rescued Drummer from certain death as a child, and has raised Jakita to be his chosen warrior, champion and heir. Ellis proved that tripartite dynamic is a working and variable combination: the hipster info-king (a super-geek but handsome under Cassadayís always sympathetic art; Cassaday is always about the eyes, in almost every scene), the lithe Emma Peel-style powerhouse, under the supervision of the cranky old grandpappy capable of freezing you until you shatter. An unusual super-team, to be sure, but one capable of amazing feats in their quest to archive wonders rather than obliterate them.

So if Iím a little less than blown away this issue, itís partly regret. I empathize with Jakita totally when she says, ďI donít believe itís overĒ (after getting her hair ruffled annoyingly by Snow). The other part is that she and Drummer donít have much to do this issue, which is all Elijahís very talky show.

But what a grand show it was. And a real achievement, as Ellisís words and Cassadayís art, though delivered so infrequently, now comprise a body of work that is unassailably whole and complete and consistent from start to finish.



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