The Instrumentality falls!
Dreadstar #28 (“Freedom Break”) by Jim Starlin begins the three issues where the Instrumentality is defeated completely. Starlin had an odd sense of pacing, shifting from drawn out stories that examined small aspects of the larger plot to quick bursts where big things happened in a small number of pages. Remember how quickly the Monarchy fell? It was almost a footnote to the Dreadstar/Z conflict. The fall of the Instrumentality happens with a similar speed as Dreadstar and Company invade Altrarix, the capital planet of the Instrumentality. There, they cut through the defence forces like butter and win over the people using Maxilon. The oppression and ruthlessness of the Instrumentality help gain supporters, too, but Maxilon actually does something for once, making his part of the series not quite as useless/baffling as it would have been otherwise.
The ease with which the Instrumentality folds is surprising. By the time that Dreadstar and Company reach the palace, the Lord High Papal is gone as are most of the enemies we’ve seen. Infra Red is taken out, while Lady Styx sells out the Papal in exchange for immunity. We’re left with Willow and Oedi heading to take out Monalo, while Dreadstar, Syzygy and Ultra Violet go after the Lord High Papal.
There is one scene that stands out: Dreadstar confronting the Twelve Gods. He communes with them in the same way that the Lord High Papal does and delivers a speech that I can only assume influenced J. Michael Straczynski in Babylon 5, because damned if it isn’t eerily similar to one used there. Dreadstar says to them:
I’VE COME TO TELL YOU THAT YOUR BOY, THE LORD PAPAL, IS WASHED UP.
THE PEOPLE HAVE BOOTED HIM OUT. THEY’VE RECLAIMED THEIR GALAXY.
NOW I’M HERE TO TELL YOU THAT EMPIRICAL GALAXY DOESN’T NEED YOU ANYMORE EITHER.
YOU HAVE SHOWN THE TRUE FACE OF THE GODS.
THE TRUTH HAS CLEANSED US OF OUR NEED TO WORSHIP.
WE NO LONGER NEED OR WANT YOU,
And they do… promising to get Dreadstar back later. It’s a surprising finish to their threat (for now) with a one-page, six-line speech convincing them to leave.
There’s something automatic, something mechanical about the way this issue is executed. The fall of the Instrumentality is a foregone conclusion with this being the necessary work. Starlin clearly cares more about the fights with Monalo and the Lord High Papal than this. There are some cool scenes like Dreadstar telling the Twelve Gods to get the hell out of his galaxy or soldiers turning on their commander, siding with the rebellion. Otherwise, it’s a rushed and mechanical issue that doesn’t give this plot much room to breath.
Tomorrow: Monalo gets his.