“I’m behind on my reading. So much to do, you know. So many decisions such as… do I kill myself today? Or wait a bit longer?”
The dissonance between my love of the Peter David/Angel Medina run as a reader and my incapability to find anything meaningful to say about it critically is… well, large. When I hit upon this little scheme to follow up my initial Dreadstar December series of posts, I figured it would be a cake walk. It’s not Starlin, sure, but it’s the next closest thing (in terms of Dreadstar comics). Where Starlin’s endless subtext and allegory once ruled is now a bit of farce and humour… neither of which are bad, they’re just not things that I find that I have a lot to say about. This is an enormously fun bunch of comics to read. But, to write about… I’m afraid my limitations are showing.
But, because I am a glass half full kind of guy, I’m trying to see this as my limitations, and not the fault of the comic. After all, I spent a lot of time writing about far worse comics in far greater detail. So… what’s the problem here?
Part of it is that we’re four issues in and it’s still in quasi-Star Trek mode of storytelling. In this issue, Dreadstar and company come across a derelict ship with the crew dead, alien bugs aboard, and one member of the crew still alive, albeit undead-like. It’s boilerplate Trek spiced up with a little more horror and the different sort of characters. Dreadstar and company are more likely to snap at one another than play nice, and that’s entertaining to read. There is movement on the larger subplots with Junior now walking and talking, and the first sign of Lord Palafox, and that’s about it.
The other part is that, while entertaining, I’m not convinced that these issues actually are particularly good. Similarly to Starlin’s final nine months on the book, there is a sense that things are somewhat aimless and the book looks for direction. Shifting to a true ensemble doesn’t help as that makes it less focused. Starlin often put the spotlight on the supporting cast, but Vanth Dreadstar was still the focal point of Dreadstar. That no longer feels like the case here. In fact, one of the recurring ideas of this run is just how inessential/ineffectual he is.
Maybe that’s my way in. David’s run is about the deconstruction of Dreadstar as a heroic figure. He no longer has the power in the fullest sense, he’s old, he’s out of touch… he’s desperate to be relevant and fight for a cause… That’s an interesting turnaround from the Vanth Dreadstar of the first 31 issues of Dreadstar and a somewhat organic transition from the nine that followed it. His name is still the title of the comic, but is he still necessary? In this issue, he doesn’t really do anything. He hasn’t really done anything in the four issues that David has written.
And, thus, we have the official title of Dreadstar December 2: “Is Dreadstar Necessary?”
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