Planetary: Lost Worlds, written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Jerry Ordway and Phil Jiminez (Collected 2011): This inexpensive, 100-page comic-book style reprint collection replaces (along with the expensive, over-sized hardcover Planetary: Batman reprint) an older reprint volume of Planetary‘s non-arc one-offs, Crossing Worlds. I don’t know how successful these inexpensive DC reprints are, but this one is just about right for the money and the material.
The first story teams super-archaeologists Planetary and super-problem-solvers Authority in a story that mainly seems to exist to show Planetary’s worries about the Authority’s gradual assumption of more and more political power, to tie up some loose ends from the first issue of Planetary, and to give Warren Ellis a chance to write the most unpleasant (and, historically speaking, inaccurate) version of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft ever. Phil Jiminez does solid pencilling work, but the story seems padded with fight sequences and awfully thin on all other types of sequences.
The second story, drawn by long-time Superman penciller Jerry Ordway, takes place on a parallel Earth on which Planetary runs everything (malevolently) from behind the scenes just as Planetary’s enemy The Four do in the regular Planetary comic. Alternate versions of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman take on Planetary, all the other heroes of Earth having been killed off in secret by Planetary and their powers used in new, money-making technologies. It’s one of those depressing ‘What-if?’ tales that again seems padded with fight sequences in lieu of adequate development of the characters and dystopian elements.
Both stories are interesting, and it’s hard to argue with the price ($7.99, about half what you’d have paid for the standalone issues back when they came out in the early oughts), but they’re pretty light stuff compared to the heavy-hitting regular Planetary material. Lightly recommended.