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Anna Hark's personal private investigator, Jim Wilder, is on the scene of an unusual terrorist act. The west coast Hark Corporation office has been blown up (nearly vaporized) by a group who will identify themselves only as "The Snowflake." The act is unusual insofar as the Hark Corporation is apparently a benign business, and the terrorist group made no demands (that we are privy to) of the Hark Corporation. Wilder also finds it strange that a terrorist group would identify itself as "something as cute and fluffy as 'The Snowflake'."
Those of you who have been around since issue one might find the name more compelling than Mr. Wilder did.
We hear Wilder's half of a phone conversation with Miss Hark, reviewing the details of the incident, when random chance leads Wilder to a mugging in progress. He gives chase, and the pursuit leads right to ground zero of the site where the Hark building once stood. Tearing through the police tape and under the tents where the investigation is being conducted, Wilder and the mugger happen upon the Planetary team, whose attention is focused on a bizarre object half buried at the center of the blast site. Wilder takes a shortcut over the top of the object to intercept the mugger, but the instant his foot touches the object, he vanishes. Seconds later he reappears, unconscious, with a strange scar on his chest.
He awakens surrounded by the team in a private hospital that's funded by the Planetary organization. Jakita asks if he knows what happened to him. He does, and proceeds to explain to them that he was transported to a fantastic Shiftship, a vessel designed to sail the channels between alternate universes. The ship's computer, manifesting itself in the form of a multicolored snowflake (of the type was saw in issue one) explains to Wilder that it crashed on our earth in prehistoric times, while dinosaurs still roamed the earth. The crew died on impact, and no rescuers ever arrived. The ship then says it needs a new crew to get home. Wilder agrees to be the first, and to help locate the remaining volunteers needed to fly the ship home.
Wilder asks the team if they would like to see the ship. When they agree, his body transforms, and he is clothed in an outfit that is reminiscent of the ship itself. He transports the team to the ship. While touring it, Wilder asks Jakita if she'll help him in his task. Jakita begins to respond by explaining that Planetary's role is only investigatory, but Snow interrupts her and promises Wilder the resources he needs, "Money no object, no request denied."
While this issue doesn't really bring the whole puzzle together, it does a great job of providing a bunch of new pieces that look similar to some of the pieces we already have. We're not really making progress yet, but you start to feel like we're just a few pieces away from really having some breakthroughs!
The snowflake, of course, we already know is a portion of a computer that works with multiverses. That one would be found on an other-dimensional ship that crashed to earth millions of years ago tells us that residents of at least one of those other universes has been hip to the technology much longer than earth (and Doc Brass' crew, who were the first to develop the technology independently on earth back in 1945). If you've been following warren Ellis' other Wildstorm title, The Authority--and why wouldn't you be, fer pete's sake?--you know that shiftships and multiverse travel are not new to this universe, and this ship's description of its function aligns nicely with what's going on over there with the Carrier, that team's dimension-sailing headquarters.
The one thing that stands out as a misalignment, though, would be the architecture of Wilder's ship. It is very dissimilar in appearance from the Carrier. In fact, it looks much more similar to the technology involved in the machine the team uncovered in Hong Kong, just last issue. More evidence of other-dimensional visits to earth? It would certainly seem so. Another difference would be the absence of any snowflake-like devices in Authority, but it might be too early to draw conclusions from this.
The fact that the terrorist group identified itself as The Snowflake is quite a surprise. While the possibility exists that Anna Hark (the Miss Hark Wilder was on the phone with) has knowledge of snowflakes as we know from issue one that Hark, a member of Doc Brass' outfit, was there for the first one created by our earth. But why would any group in-the-know enough to have snowflake awareness do something as big, loud, and crude as blow up a Hark building to make a point? From what we've seen thus far, merely mentioning snowflakes to the right people might be all that's needed to make things happen. And a terrorist group? If it's more than a very small number of people, one would be forced to conclude that the bulk of the group wouldn't be privy to the meaning behind the name, and had been enticed to join on some false pretense. Suffice it to say that this is likely the tip of an iceberg-esque storyline that will take center stage later on in this title.
Jakita's reluctance to commit Planetary's resources to Wilder and his ship was surprising. Almost as surprising was the fact that she didn't volunteer to become the next member of the ship's crew. As she once told Snow that her main motivation to be on the team was to avoid boredom, and we haven't seen anything thus far that would suggest a deeper agenda, it would seem like the ship and the chance to explore countless dimensions would be awfully good at holding her interest. Snow was right in character, however, when he stepped in to promise Planetary's support .
What is the agenda of The Snowflake group? What grudge do they have against Hark Corporation? Just what does Hark Corporation know of snowflakes, and how did they gain possession of the artifact that transported Wilder to the ship? When and where will the Hark Corporation and Planetary meet? What role might Wilder and the ship have in Planetary's future?