"Century": This story is reprinted from Planetary #13.
The Planetary Reader is a one-shot with a cover date of October, 2003. It was published on August 27, 2003.
Appearing in "Century"
- The Four (Behind the scenes)
- Carlton Marvell (Flashback only)
- Planetary Guide
- Planetary helicopter
Synopsis for "Century"
This story is reprinted from Planetary #13.
It's 1919, Germany, and Elijah Snow makes his way up a storm-swept mountain to a broken-down castle. Lightning crashes down around him as he enters and lets himself into an abandoned laboratory, a room whose towering walls stretch up many stories to an open skylight above. At the lab's center, a place "where dead men walked," Snow examines an elevated platform some 50 feet above the floor. In doing so, he inadvertently releases several large egg-shaped structures from the walls, hatching five vaguely humanoid monsters that he overcomes only thanks to his agility and unique powers. He then leaves the lab behind for his true objective at the castle: the library, and the three-dimensional, electrical globe he had been told about -- the secret map of the world.
Jump ahead to 1920, England, and Baker Street. This time Snow breaks into the home of an elderly man, who he find in a shadowy sitting room, smoking a distinctive pipe that could only belong to the world's greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes. Telling Holmes he knows of the Conspiracy that he and his associates had been up to since the past century, Snow goes on to say he intends to put an end to it. At which point, he is jumped by a pale, stone-faced ghoul who could only be yet another legendary figure: Count Dracula. Overcoming him easily, Snow learns from Holmes that the detective had wanted to do the same to the vampire "for the last 20 years." The point of the Conspiracy, says Holmes, had been to make the world better. Instead, by taking to the darkness, they became darker themselves. Dracula's death will likely end the group's association. Snow, however, wants more: knowledge. "To be a detective, then?" says Holmes. "Very well. I can instruct you in my methods." And over the next five years, he does. Snow gets his wish. The seeds of Planetary are sown.
Appearing in "Zero Point"
Synopsis for "Zero Point"
This story is reprinted from Planetary #14.
It's 1995, and in a hidden Planetary scientific facility, an elderly professor shows Elijah Snow a stick recovered from a captured ship. But it's more than a stick, as a small amount of kinetic energy results in it being replaced by an ornate and powerful hammer, which the professor describes as a weapon belonging to The Four. The stick has not been transformed but rather transposed with the hammer, which crosses The Bleed between universes while the stick assumes its place in another one. The professor says he can expand the portal to send a team across to where the hammer came from; Snow says no and goes alone. There he discovers an entire world, vast and barren and carpeted with bones, serving as an armory for weapons that stretch as far as the eye can see. "They killed an entire world," mutters Snow. "So that they had somewhere to store their weapons."
Back on Earth some time later, an unseen force -- leaving footprints -- breaks into a Planetary bunker in Antarctica. Rows of containment chambers with alien bodies suspended in them line a passageway, into which the unseen intruder warps into visibility: The Four's Kim Süskind. She contacts Randall Dowling to tell of her discovery ("They have our children...I don't know quite how they got this good"), but is interrupted as her goggles are ripped from her neck. Without them, if she turns invisible, she'll be blind. Snow's disembodied voice speaks to her, and her defiant response is met with the arrival of Ambrose Chase, whose reality warping powers cut through her force field and ravage her body. Warning Chase to keep up the pressure, Snow tells The Drummer to watch for William Leather, who arrives almost on cue but is quickly felled by a devastating rain of blows from Jakita Wagner. Before Planetary can secure their captives, though, an immense saucer arrives on the screen and (apparently) uproots both the bunker and the surrounding area.
Snow awakens to find himself strapped to a table about to be operated on by Dowling (a scene that is seen in Snow's recovered memories in Planetary #11). Before the memory blocks are placed in his brain, a bloody and disheveled Snow speaks to his team: "Don't you dare come looking for me. I mean, don't even think about it. But do NOT let these bastards win. These are orders. Goodbye."
Appearing in "Creation Songs"
- Appearances not yet listed
Synopsis for "Creation Songs"
This story is reprinted from Planetary #15.
A narrator, who we later determine to be Elijah Snow, tells a Creation story in which the First Day saw the sun explode through the dark surface of the Earth, awakening the slumbering Ancients, who then strode across the world singing it and all of its lifeforms into being. In the present, Snow and Jakita Wagner visit a modest-looking suburban home whose door is answered by a woman: Larissa Chase, widow of former Planetary third man Ambrose Chase. Snow tells her that she and her daughter, Angela, are now independently wealthy, part of his efforts to "right old wrongs." Later, he places a call to Jim Wilder, requesting information on coordinates and Anna Hark, and meets with Dr. Axel Brass. Brass apologizes for hiding the fact that they'd crossed paths before, at Jakita and The Drummer's request, and the two discuss previous encounters. Snow then brings up another topic: The Four.
Sometime later, Planetary is en route to Australia, as the local office has reported Four activity in the area of Ayres Rock. Snow knows why: In 1931, an explorer named Carlton Marvell, anxious to experience interplanetary travel, learned of a concept called The Dreamtime. Thought to be a space at the center of all things ("maybe the whole multiverse was dreamed into being"), The Dreamtime has an access point at Ayres Rock, a place where reality is thin. Marvell went through, and Snow was present at the time -- and now The Four are there too.
Planetary arrives to find a Four ship hovering above the mammoth outcropping and what looks to be an immense gun poised over it. That gun, Snow explains, likely incorporates part of the Creation Song that can open a gateway into The Dreamtime...but only Snow himself knows the rest of the song, and he has Jakita and Drums use it as a virus to disrupt The Four's plans. It works: Planetary's virus awakens the Ancient which, asleep, is Ayres Rock. Rising, it turns The Four's gun and spacecraft into scrap metal. Snow contacts and sarcastically wishes The Four's Randall Dowling a good morning, saying, "From here, things will only get worse."
- No special notes.
- No trivia.