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Planetary, Vol. 4: Spacetime Archaeology (Planetary #4)

4.47 of 5 stars 4.47  ·  rating details  ·  3,390 ratings  ·  123 reviews
This is it - the long-awaited fourth and final graphic novel collecting the adventures of Elijah Snow, a powerful, hundred year old man, Jakita Wagner, an extremely powerful but bored woman, and The Drummer, a man with the ability to communicate with machines. Infatuated with tracking down evidence of super-human activity, these mystery archaeologists of the late 20th Cent ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by WildStorm
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It Lives in The Basement by Sahara FoleyThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan MooreThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 2 by Alan MooreThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 by Alan MoorePlanetary, Vol. 4 by Warren Ellis
Crossover Fiction
5th out of 79 books — 31 voters
Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. VaughanWatchmen by Alan MooreThe Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil GaimanY by Brian K. VaughanHawkeye, Vol. 1 by Matt Fraction
Graphic Novels that are Quality
120th out of 363 books — 231 voters

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Community Reviews

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This is it. The culmination of the Planetary series. Does it live up to the hype? Does the climax match the build up? Well, read on and we’ll see.

Issue 19 – “Mystery in Space”: There’s a strange artifact approaching earth from deep space and Elijah plans on seeing what mysteries it contains. Ellis pays homage to the Big Dumb Object in sci-fi and also draws on the ideas of generation starships, orbital habitats, and the remnants of precursor races. Elijah has a plan to draw out the one member of
This is a review of the full four-volume saga, consisting of Planetary, Volume. 1: All Over the World and Other Stories, Planetary, Volume 2: The Fourth Man, Planetary, Volume 3: Leaving the 20th Century and Planetary, Volume 4: Spacetime Archaeology. I will review the companion volume Planetary: Crossing Worlds elsewhere. I'm doing this because the four books simply don't work independently. Most of book 2 is completely incomprehensible until you read book 3, at which point all the apparently r ...more
Sam Quixote

I've never read a series from start to finish and left wondering what the hell it was all supposed to be about. In this final book (four volumes, who knew?) the evil Fantastic Four are diminished in number and then taken out by Planetary, while we discover their motives - something I'm still not clear about. They sold out the planet to a group of paranoid eternal post-humans or something? But if this Earth is one of so many and doesn't mean anything, then why does it mean something to th
Well that was pretty much fantastic. Ellis weaves a tale (among the four books/27 issues) as intricate and well thought out as any I've seen. Loose plot threads get picked up, great characters grow and show us where their quirks have been coming from, and there are still a few surprises along the way.

Ellis sneaks in an incredible amount of layered thinking about physics, time travel, the limits and purpose of human achievement and some honest-to-dog philosophy. My mind is still reeling trying to

A friend who works in a comic book store gave me this series to read back in 2006, I think.

I loved them. It might have been some of my first exposure to Warren Ellis. Back before I was a fan of his who specifically hunts down anything new he writes.

I read the first book, and the second, and the third...

Then I tried to buy the fourth book. But I couldn't. The series had apparently been canceled or abandoned back in 2004.

I went back to the friend and said to him, "If you ever get me started on
What a series. Visual quotes from the rest of comic story world abound in this series, yet it's all it's own creature. An evil fantastic four, a murdered wonder woman/green lantern/& superman, a crippled Doc Savage, a james bond with better toys and more kickass than the movies ever had, a john constantine wearing spider jerusalems tattoos, a godzilla corpse WITH a yukio mishima name drop scene, a voodoo woman who insists shes a scientist but talks like a psychologist, a dark lone ranger, a ...more
Okay, Planetary gets better and better, this is a highly recommended series to any comic book fan, you will get here a smart and respectful tribute to almost all comic book genres, pulp, western, monsters, super-heroes, along with creative use of known characters from classic literature and even reinterpretations of comic book characters. Also, it's a short series that it's something good since you don't have to spend much to reunite the whole run. Highly recommended.
Wow was this book hurt by the long delays. I recall as the book was coming out in individual issue form, I kind of felt like it had lost its steam, had dipped in quality, but I just reread it all as a whole the other night and damn. This is one of the finest comic stories I've ever read and it ends brilliantly, on form thematically and plotwise tying up all loose ends very well.

But the Melancatha issue is still shit and a pointless digression.
I wish I could give it 6 stars.
Just for the hell of it I re-read Planetary on a beach vacation in Cabo San Lucas (at the pool, not the beach, the books are too precious for sand). There's nothing like failed fin de siecle angst in a hedonistic retrospective.

I read all 4 volumes but comment here (Vol 4) for completeness.

I stand by my 2010-2011 3 stars for Vols 3 & 4 and 4 stars for Vols 1 & 2 (maybe 3.5 stars for 3 now).

A good read which treads the fine line between homage of many other comic/superhero stories and blat
Richard Guion
A great finish to the series--and it was amazing that Planetary finished at all! The first issue appeared in 1999 and the last issue (#27) was published in 2009. Elijah Snow has a final confrontation with the Four, and while the wrap up seems a bit too easy (after a long buildup), Planetary was never really about defeating a Big Bad. Each issue contained an exploration into the very foundations of comics, from pulp heroes to film icons to modern superheroes. In this last run we get a fascinating ...more
Planetary, in the end, comes down to a love of stories--the speculative and imaginative stories that inspired wonder throughout the twentieth century. Now that it's the twentieth-first century, when nothing seems surprising anymore, this decade-long endeavor by Ellis, Cassaday, and Martin to rediscover the wonder of those stories, and capture and recreate it with elegance and craft, is that much more commendable.

And the craft is important. Great storytellers tune us in to rare ways of seeing the
Mikael Kuoppala
The "Planetary" saga ends too soon with another solid installment that utilizes the tremendous potential of this delightful concept. The series goes out with style but way too soon; there isn't enough momentum here for a true grande finale so the volume does what it has to, no more, no less. The volume still feels fresh, as it combines a grand narrative to individually contained stories and doesn't yet go ahead full speed with the main arch. It's difficult to grasp that this is truly all there i ...more
I really liked this series. Not only was it an awesome story overall, but it was a full on mind bender as well.

This isn't really something you can say for most books, but I thought the math was interesting and it made me think. Still not sure if I agree with his description of the "multiverse" but I think that's one of those things you kinda just have to let fly in a story like this. I loved it though just for making me think about it (note: I used to LOVE mathematical topology).

Add that his "
David Hewitt
Archeologists of our Collective Cultural Imagination

It’s often said that one measure of literature (and something similar can be said of other art forms) is whether it rewards re-reading or not. After finishing the graphic novel series Planetary, I immediately went back to the beginning and re-read the entire story. This re-read was a matter of both desire and necessity: Planetary is that kind of a story, loaded with puzzle pieces whose juxtapositions aren’t fully clear until the end. I’m happy
James Garner
Been waiting for two years for the last collected volume of Planetary. I'd been turned onto the first three, but then wasn't able to catch all the monthly issues near the end. Too many holes in the series made me bide my time and get the collected volume. When it came, I breezed through the first three to refresh my memory.

This is an incredible synthesis/homage of 20th century pop culture that I think is Ellis' best work. Creating heroes who are archaeologists mining for artifacts of worldwide s
Reprints Planetary #19-27 (May 2004-December 2009). The war between the Four and Planetary is officially on and Elijah Snow is taking no chances. His goal is to break-up and separate the Four for individual defeat and to use the Four’s knowledge to save the Earth. The source of the Four’s knowledge is revealed as Snow leads Planetary on a mission to change Earth forever.

Written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by John Cassaday, Planetary 4: Spacetime Archaeology collects the fourth and final part
Wow. In this final volume, Ellis and Cassaday drop the one-shot storytelling and finally go serialized, as Elijah Snow systematically goes after the Four, and Jakita and Drums try to pull him back from the edge. They take us from outer space to innerspace with ease and bring the series to an immensely satisfying conclusion. And we finally get the Drummer's backstory!

The repeated theme of the book is "It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way." It's a beautifully odd mission statement, but wha
And so it ends, with the archaeologists of the impossible attempting to achieve the impossible.

It became clear to me, in a way that it hadn't before, that Planetary is in many ways like X-Files; not only does it deal with the transnormal, and looking at the secrets hidden away under the surface of reality, but it's also primarily about information, and power, and how both the hiding away and the sharing of information can be displays of power.

At the same time, in the current volume it becomes d
Todd N
Finally got around to reading this after it sat on my shelf for several months. It has been a long time since I read the first three books, so I was going to go through and reread them because the plot gets kind of complicated. Then I remembered that it's a dang comic book and sat on the couch to read it.

I don't want to include any spoilers, but I like the way that the series wraps up. The epilogue made me kind of sappy too because I'm a sucker for stories about friendship and loyalty.

But overal
Oh, I have been waiting for this...

...and it did not disappoint. Ellis' strange and mysterious plotting involving misanthropic yet heroic characters fighting misanthropic and despicable characters slides into home with a surprising sense of hope, love, and family. Cassaday's art also moves into a clean precision that has evolved naturally through the ten years of the series' span, yet that evolution seems tailored to reflect the change in tone of Ellis' scripts and story. Wonderful work.

And yet
OK, I concede... it was mind-blowing after all. Once I started to make sense of all the divergent threads and visits to different places in time, I realized what a ridiculously well-conceived and well-constructed, if rather twisted and challenging, piece of work this is. And really, the device of shifting from place to place in the twentieth century to explain how things that happened at various times in the past were all coming together for the resolution of the plot was one of my favorite thin ...more
Collecting the last nine issues of the series, this kind of got away from what I liked originally, and that was actually exploring this different world. With some stand alone stories that give background on the characters that had yet to be explored, most of this is Elijah's final attack against The Four, and the revelation of what The Four is up to. At the conclusion, I thought it was becoming a little too over ambitious and the ending felt kind of forced.

I'm not sure if this was how Warren Ell
Warren Ellis tackles really, really big ideas with this book.

My favorite part is the sequence with Melanctha, in which she guides Elijah Snow into another world, an inner space. There Ellis exposits a theory which appeals to the romantic inside me... in a nutshell, he is suggesting that psychedelic fauna are in fact the distilled souls of humankind. Man's blood has been spilt to death for so long, and the roots drink them up...

The panel where the angels go to Mach 2. A throne the size of Manhat
Daryl Nash
Having just gotten around to reading the Planetary series over the last month, I was ultimately disappointed. And I'm not sure that it was the book's fault but rather the overblown hyperbole that has surrounded it. In their introductions to the first two volumes, Alan (freakin') Moore and Josh ("my Master now") Whedon practically claim it's the second coming of comic books. Instead, at its best, it is a loving pastiche and tribute of and to the pulp fiction of the last century, with gorgeous art ...more
This was a great ending to the series. It's left open to know that the characters continue but I don't feel like I absolutely need to read anymore of the stories.

I love Warren Ellis' take on superheroes and their tropes. This couldn't exist without much love and knowledge of the genre.

John Cassady is one of those guys that I love no matter what he's drawing. His art is distinctive without being obnoxious.
Ben Joseph
Super-human archaeologists explore the secret meta-fictional history of the 20th century in an allegory for the history of comic books and storytelling as a whole. You are now either totally on board or looking over my shoulder for a way out of this conversation and wondering why the hell you let me corner you at this party, I mean, there are girls here for Christ's sake.
Wow... What a series...

Ellis continues to put together a stellar series in this one and despite what some say, I really couldn't think of a better way to cap it off than he did in the last couple of issues.

Ellis continues to throw the pop culture analogs at us, while in this volume mixing in a bit of magic, psychadelia, religion, and several schools of science. This volume almost smacked of "The Invisibles" for me (definitely a good thing), but was just awe-inspiring in a completely different wa
Nick Kives
If it wasn't for the book club, I'm not sure I would have read all of this in the end. Unlike some series, where a single volume can have an over arching story, almost every chapter/issue is "random" events. Nothing directly connected to the previous. They may drop a name in one issue and then many issues later, you will be seeing that person. It isn't until this final volume that all of those seemingly random events fully come together, and actually tell a complete story.

This is a series that
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Has written comics & graphic novels, books, journalism, animation, tv, film, videogames and anything else that looks like it might pay a bill or buy whisky.

Second novel, GUN MACHINE, due from Mulholland Books in autumn of 2012.

First non-fiction book due from FSG in 2014.

Currently a weekly columnist for VICE UK.


More about Warren Ellis...

Other Books in the Series

Planetary (5 books)
  • Planetary, Vol. 1: All Over the World and Other Stories
  • Planetary, Vol. 2: The Fourth Man
  • Planetary, Vol. 3: Leaving the 20th Century
  • Planetary: Crossing Worlds
Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the Street (Transmetropolitan, #1) Transmetropolitan, Vol. 2: Lust for Life Transmetropolitan, Vol. 3: Year of the Bastard (Transmetropolitan, #3) Planetary, Vol. 1: All Over the World and Other Stories Transmetropolitan, Vol. 5: Lonely City (Transmetropolitan, #5)

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“Elijah Snow: 'Who have you pissed off this time, John?'

John Stone: 'Sumatran robot death sluts -- Dammit, ONE of these buttons fires the atomic death biter --”
“That means that the universe is two-dimensional. Matter, energy, time, you, me and the floor are holograms.” 6 likes
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