Nuclear Spring

Preview Published in both Gen 13 #33 and C*23 #6.
An aged, retired general being escorted to his quarters in a military base (that doesn't officially "exist") by two bodyguards finds the three members of Planetary waiting for him inside. After Jakita subdues the guards, she explains the reason for their visit - they want to hear about a man named David Paine. Visibly shaken, the general begins to relate the story of a brilliant young scientist with a wild idea called Integral Design Theory (the Drummer recognizes it as Description Theory) - trying to build a quantum computer that is also a bomb. It was 1962 when they ran the big test. According to the general, as they were monitoring the countdown, his wife (it's strongly hinted that Paine and the general's wife were having an affair) went looking for for Paine at the bomb site. While Paine races from the control area to the test site to save her, no one thinks to delay the bomb's detonation. As Paine pushes the woman to safety, he is caught in the explosion. The general theorizes that in order to survive the blast, the quantum nature of the bomb enabled Paine to metamorphosize into a form that could survive it. Unable to change back to human form, and trapped in a huge, monstrous body, Paine is chased by the army for 24 days. They capture him, dump him into an old underground missile silo, and leave him there with no food or water. Paine finally dies... in 1983. As a final note, the general adds that his wife had a daughter six months after these events, but he has never seen the little girl.

Only 8 pages long, this story serves as our introduction to Planetary. Jakita and Snow explain to the general (and the reader) their purpose as "mystery archaeologists, mapping the secret history of the 20th century." They show considerable resources in just showing up; the general is astonished that they have any knowledge the remains at all about his base or Paine, a man whose official existence hasbeen wiped from all records (even as far as "altering memories in friends and colleagues"). We see brief demonstrations of their powers: the Drummer controlling security devices, and Jakita's speed and strength. Snow remain a mystery. It also introduces the idea of quantum computing and other realities that will manifest itself in the "Snowflake/Multiverse" icon in issue #1.

Paine's story is obviously a Hulk analogy, with the general and his wife filling in for Thunderbolt Ross and his daughter Betsy. The quantum nature of the bomb and Paine's work with Description Theory provides a much more satisfying explanation for the Hulk's origin than Marvel has ever done. The timing of the tale (1962) coincides with the Hulk's debut. The implications? Looks like an homage to the original Lee and Kirby tale with a twist. That Paine lasted as long as he did could be a tribute to the inspiration of the original Hulk idea. Paine's death date may be significant as well - 1983 saw the first extended storyline featuring Bruce Banner's brain in control of the Hulk. Ellis introduces a major theme of Planetary - that his stated purpose of exploring "100 years of superhero history" includes not only the Wildstorm universe, but also those archetypes with which we grew up. He also seems to hint that some storylines SHOULD die - once they have run their course - so that new ideas can take hold and prosper.

Questions Raised
The General's Daughter - Who is she? Was she affected by the bomb? Will she appear later in the series?


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