Dead Gunfighters

Ish 3The story opens with a sequence right out of a Chinese action flick, with high-speed action scenes featuring guns, cars, shattered glass, and about as much kinetic energy as can be held down on a page. A ghost police officer takes out a small group of mobsters as the Planetary team looks on.

Welcome to Hong Kong.

Called in by China's Planetary office, the team is on hand to investigate the ghost cop. We meet Michelle, the head of the China office. She expresses surprise that the field team is actually there for the first time in her six years with the organization. This surprises Jakita and Snow. Jakita didn't know of anyone having been with Planetary longer than four years, but Michelle has been around for six and had a predecessor to boot.

While investigating the site where the ghost cop has been appearing, Drummer senses an information signal. With Jakita's help, he draws a bizarre machine to the surface. Despite his ability to talk with machines, Drummer is unable to decipher the information stored inside. Then Detective Shek Chi-Wai, the Hong Kong policeman unjustly murdered and avenging the wrong as a ghost, appears and tells them the devices is God. He describes it as an object with over 100,000 different angles. Drummer recognizes the description as similar to that of a Snowflake, one of the quantum machines the Doc Brass created back in 1945, but this thread is not pursued. The man responsible for Shek's murder shows up and Shek takes his revenge.

This is a fast paced issue, with a heavy emphasis on using the art and page layout to give a cinematic quality to the storytelling, particularly during the action sequences. Ellis has identified this issue as his nod to Chinese action films and their unique style. As a side note, Ellis has mixed tributes here just a bit: Shek Chi-Wai is also a tip-of-the-hat to DC's avenging spirit, The Spectre.

Another self contained yarn, the two main elements that provide more pieces to the overall Planetary puzzle are 1) the revelation that the Planetary organization is older than even our protagonists thought, and 2) the possibility that the snowflake technology that we had believed invented by Doc Brass may not be unique in the world.

The age of the Planetary organization could help determine the identity of the Fourth Man, Planetary's financial backer, particularly if the Fourth Man is Planetary's founder as well. This is certainly the implication, but thus far there is no real evidence to prove that the Fourth Man isn't more like Jakita, Snow, and Drummer, a relative newcomer. Still, with the fortune at work and the resources required to maintain what we've already experienced to be an organization that spans the globe, and has for some years, it makes more sense to believe that if the Fourth Man is at the very least a leader of long tenure, if not in fact the original founder.

god The device that Drummer and Jakita draw from the ground is quickly forgotten as the story ends, at least, it is not mentioned again before the end of the issue. While Drummer tried to draw a parallel to Doc Brass' snowflake computer, the two devices are superficially very dissimilar. Where the snowflake was a physical manifestation of the complex computations being performed by a computer that, in most other respects, appeared fairly normal (for what little we could see in issue one), this machine was very unorthodox in appearance. Portions of its appearance were reminiscent of perhaps gothic architecture, and the interior is full of adult human forms in a fetal position. To approach it from the angle offered by Detective Chi-Wai, one would be led to conclude that it is a repository for souls, its appearance possibly only our interpretation of something the human mind can't understand. Like a two dimensional being only able to perceive a tiny portion of a three dimensional object, this device is only that portion of a god that we can't see with our limitations.

Or not.

At any rate, the evidence available doesn't lead one to believe the two devices are similar in design or function. If anything,the most likely link is that while the snowflake spans dimensions, this device is from another dimension.

Questions Raised
How old is Planetary, anyway? Are we going to meet any persons who have worked for Planetary but don't any longer? Is the technology revealed in this issue going to be explored further?



Extra Thoughts
Since this issue is Ellis' tribute to Hong Kong crime cinema, is he saying that in the afterlife we are treated like DVD's? We get stored in God's hard drive unless he decides to "play" us, like say being projected onto a street corner until a murder has been avenged...? This machine that Drummer brings up - he says it's "very old information' and when it appears, it's decorated very ornately - very similar to the shiftship. I'll be damned if the two aren't connected somehow.


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