Dreadstar December — Dreadstar #22
Oedi is dead. Doctor Delphi is dead. Soon, everyone will be dead.
Dreadstar #22 (“The Hunted”) by Jim Starlin begins with a rare appearance by Maxilon as Dreadstar stashes away all of the Maxilon robots they have in a cave on the planet where they’re stranded. There are two threads to this issue: Dreadstar and Company preparing the arrival of the Lord High Papal’s forces and Willow telling Syzygy about how she first met the now-deceased Doctor Delphi. It’s another breather issue, one that’s completely necessary, but a breather nonetheless.
In the preparations for the Lord High Papal’s forces, Starlin has the characters address one element of the book that’s glaring once it’s pointed out: Dreadstar is a pretty bad leader. Two members dead, stranded on a planet, and their immensely powerful and large enemy knows where they are. Skeevo lays into him for this, demanding to know what his plan is — and he has none. Ever since the unveiling of Plan M, the crew has been at a disadvantage. The ‘betrayal’ of Z changed things in such a large way that even when it looked like they were making a comeback, they were so deep in the hole that it didn’t matter. They’ve been at a disadvantage and every idea they’ve tried has failed. For a tactical genius, a brilliant warrior, Vanth Dreadstar has fucked it all up. Normally, this realisation is where the good guys somehow figure out a plan and begin their comeback. Not the case here. Instead, they split up and try to be less obvious of targets. The issue ends with Skeevo saying that he knows they’re done as Vanth flies off.
In the middle of this, Willow mourns Delphi’s death and tells Syzygy how she came to know him. It’s nothing special. Willow, getting out of the orphanage environment fell in with a bad crowd, got fucked up, was about to get turned out, and Delphi intervened, got her clean, and got her a job. It’s a bit cliched and doesn’t really tell us anything we didn’t know before about Willow. It casts Delphi in a different light, but doesn’t really add anything to the character. He’s dead. It’s hard to care too much now.
Another important event is Lingus, the bounty hunter, being told that he isn’t needed since Oedi, his target, is dead. But, he can kill Skeevo for half-price if he wants. The Instrumentality haggling with him will come back to haunt them. Especially Monalo, the man who tells Lingus how it’s going to be.
The art in this issue is mixed. Characters have odd proportions, some line work is smooth and sharp, some is not. Nothing jumps out as particularly impressive except for the layout of the panel where Dreadstar admits he has no plan to get them out of this mess: a page-long panel with Vanth at the far left and his word balloon at the far right. A big, empty, lingering panel.
Tomorrow: one to go.