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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.

8 Comments

I do like that they’re still working out the consequences of Z’s betrayal a dozen issues later. 10+ issues of the heroes fleeing from pillar to post, winning battles but losing their war? No big deal today, but in 1984 this was still new-ish.

Since this is an issue where not much happens, I should ask if I’m the first person to point out what an awful, stupid pun Oedi’s name is.

Doug M.

@ Doug M. (not the Doug Murray): Probably. If you need to know about such a thing. ;-)

Starlin storytelling is at his best when he plots out a 30-plus storyline. Everything that happens in the past, present, and future always has something to do in whatever issue that you’re reading. Even the panels where Vanth dumps his backpack at the end will be relevant in a future issue.

Doug, a lot of what Starlin did in this book doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but was very new then.

This… is totally unrelated to Dreadstar, but all this Jim Starlin talk has reminded me of Batman: A Death in the Family. Remember how at the beginning of that story, they were trying to look for Jason Todd’s mom? And they narrowed it down to three possible candidates? One was an Israeli government agent (or something to that effect), one was Lady Shiva (who is Chinese), and the other one was white (and she ended up being his real mom).

So how come Batman, the world’s greatest detective, couldn’t take one look at Jason Todd and figured out whether he was half-Israeli, half-Chinese, or half-white? Most of the story could have been avoided if Batman had used his world-class detecting skills.

Sorry, this has been bugging me since I first read the comic back in like ’98 and for a long time it was my most powerful Jim Starlin memory. (This is despite the fact that some of the first comics I grew up reading was Infinity Gauntlet.)

It’s been a couple of years since I read Dreadstar, though. I remember enjoying the space opera of it all, but I ended up selling my run of issues because I didn’t know if I would ever read it again. Kinda wish I had kept them now just so I could follow along with you. Keep it up.

As I’ve said before, the Lingus thing bothered me. “Don’t nickel-and-dime the help” is basic Evil Overlord stuff.

Doug M.

Well, Monalo isn’t the smartest guy always… and he gets his from Lingus.

The first issue of Dreadstar that I ever read…it was my introduction to what is, in my opinion, Jim Starlin’s masterpiece and the beginning of a lifelong love of these characters. Thanks, Jim!

Having grown up on regular Marvel fare, seeing Skeevo lay into Vanth was a shocker!

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