If you look back through the history of this site, I like reading Warren Ellis. I remember a Warren Ellis/Coleen Doran story – Superidol – a story about a meme consuming the world in the form of a computer-generated idol singer from Japan. I only read it once (until recently), but it stuck with me a decade since.
I had read Transmetropolitan on a regular basis. But a question in my brain began some gears working – what was the first Warren Ellis story I read? A few answers lurched forward: The Authority, Global Frequency or Lazarus Churchyard. I still don’t own a copy of Lazarus, it was my brother’s that I read. Digging through some publication history, it might have been *Planetary*. And this is important to me. As Planetary made me stop collecting comics.
Originally, I came into the series a bit late. After the first trade paperback came out, I read through it again and again. Eventually, impatient with the slow pace of the series and waiting for more TPBs I began picking up single issues. I managed to get a better job and move, and with more money, picked up other Planetary issues from eBay. They weren’t necessarily in mint condition, but they were alright. However, there was one issue that escaped me. Issue #19 – titled Mystery In Space. The cover evoked Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama. The plot was spoiled to me through other fansites. But a copy escaped me. Despite having an internet connection, I could not find a copy of this issue Anywhere. eBay, Mile High Comics and other online comic book stores, let alone the three local comic stores that were available to me. Nothing. Every month or two, I would ritually search for the issue again. And it always resulted in not being able to find a copy. I found it perplexing that there were no copies available. It made me wonder if the issue was really that good. And after a while, I just gave up looking.
A year or so later, I went to a LifeLine BookFest. For those who have never seen one, the LifeLine charity collects all of the books and other media donated to them, ships it all to an exhibition centre and leaves it arranged to tables for people to purchase. You can find unexpected gems there. Normally, for me it’s way to pick up some old hardcover novels for cheap. This time, the LifeLine crew set a table for comic books. I figured, I’d take a look just to see what was there. My finger flicked through the boxes of comics, divided into Marvel, DC, Mad Magazine and “assorted”. That’s where I saw some Planetary comics. And that is when I saw the missing issue.
My search was over. I picked it up, bought it with the other books I had found. At home, I read it and placed it with the other Planetary comics in a box. And that was it. From then, purchasing the single issues seemed like a hollow pursuit. I had spent so much time searching for the missing issue and now that I had it no other comic book series had the same thrill collecting in singles. Planetary was the first series I really wanted to hunt for, and it was also the last.