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Dreadstar December 2 – Dreadstar #42

by  in Comic News Comment
Dreadstar December 2 – Dreadstar #42

“It’s a boy.”

Dreadstar and company now have a baby that appeared in space after they went through a hole in space. And they run up against space turtles. We’re in a bit of a second issue slump. Not that this issue is bad by any means; it’s more of a transitional issue, somehow, after only one issue by Peter David and Angel Medina thus far. It’s an issue of moments that point towards what’s to come with the odd bit of character work or humorous gag thrown in. It is a competent comic that’s enjoyable to read.

The only thing that stands out is the way that Iron Angel is positioned as against taking in the baby. She’s absolutely correct to want to leave the baby in space, kill it, or some other horrible act. That baby is nothing but trouble, starting with acting as a central point of conflict between Dreadstar and company and the space turtles. Throughout this run, Iron Angel is actually right about these sorts of things a lot. She’s the logical, rational person who can see situations for what they are: if a baby magically appears in space, you’re probably best off ignoring it, because it’s going to be trouble. But, that also means that she’s a story killer. She rails against things that will drive the story forward and make the comic interesting. Therefore, we both respect her and hate her, at the same time.

It’s an interesting trick that’s somewhat related to why, for example, viewers would side with Walter White on Breaking Bad. It’s not because of a lapse in morality, it’s because he was the story engine of the show. No Walter White, no Breaking Bad, in the broad sense at least. We root for things that make no sense, because they drive the story forward. Whereas Jim Starlin set up a broad story with an endpoint (stop a war, overthrow a government…), Peter David grows his more organically by having events happen that push the characters in a specific direction. A baby appears in space, so they take it in despite that being an obviously dumb thing to do.

There’s a clear artifice to David’s writing on Dreadstar — a certain self-awareness, if you will. He dives into that sort of metafictional awareness later in the run, but, here, it demonstrates itself through comic book in-jokes like the space turtles and through character choices where choosing ‘adventure’ overrules thought. The characters purposefully choose to ignore warning signs because they want their lives to be interesting. Iron Angel, on the other hand, says that she wants the opposite. And, yet, she remains with Dreadstar and company. Is it loyalty? Is it stupidity? Why constantly argue against the actions Vanth (the leader) or the group decide to take and remain?

Crackpot theory: she’s the hardcore Dreadstar fan stand-in. She criticises everything the new team does, but sticks around for reasons that defy logic. Why do they keep reading a comic that they dislike? No one knows. They have a problem. Ironically, she’s the character that David develops the most; a character like Skeevo would almost make more sense in this role, which makes it even stranger/cleverer. He takes a blank slate Starlin creation and uses her as the hardcore Starlin Dreadstar fan’s proxy in the title.

I have a theory about the baby being the David/Medina run itself… this object that the idea of a Dreadstar series that wants to continue and the representatives of creator-owned comics turned successful multi-media franchise fight over with Iron Angel just shrugging and tossing it to the space turtles (the Miraaj… “Mirage”), wanting the comic to end, swallowed up in movies and TV shows and action figures… The theory hasn’t come together yet entirely.

I’m just happy, for once, that there’s enough textual evidence of comic book insider interests that my metafictional theories don’t seem completely insane. Also, I lied: tomorrow, the baby gets a name.

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