Re-evaluating the end of “Planetary”

“You’d love this,” said Scott. “I know you liked ‘Transmet’–” that’s the sprawling journalist-meets-dystopia Transmetropolitan “–and this is even better. And the art is amazing.” With this recommendation from my comic shop, I picked up the first and only “Planetary” collection: All Over the World and Other Stories.

Over the years, I read the rest of the stories Warren Ellis and artist John Cassady created about this team of “mystery archaeologists”. The titular team operates in a world complete with analogs to copyrighted pulp-fiction heroes. The series is a single story formed by the intersection of pocket-sized tales, and contains some of the best writing in superhero comic books. (Don’t even try to call “Planetary” a graphic novel; the story’s too firmly rooted in the pulps for that.)

The story was continued in the second book, The Fourth Man, which had a detour into Elijah Snow’s past as well as a reinterpretation of the entire story to date. However, the story wasn’t even halfway finished when Ellis seemed to lose interest in the tale, and Cassady–then becoming more well-known–started taking on other projects. Whatever scripts Ellis tossed his way probably ended up on the back end of the priority queue.

It was a decade after the release of the first issue that issue twenty-seven ended the story. The last few issues seemed fairly anticlimactic, but was that because they were of lesser quality? Or did our waiting months and sometimes years in-between issues rob us of momentum?

Huge spoilers below, yadda yadda.

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