Dreadstar December 2 – Dreadstar #48

“I am the Supergrunt. The original Supergrunt. Perhaps you’ve heard of me.”

It’s another adventure issue as Dreadstar and company try to win the support of the second of three alien races Lord Palafox considers essential to their rebellion. This time, it’s the best ground force in the galaxy: alien army ants. Palafox’s son, Rok, has been holding their queen imprisoned in an amber-like substance ever since his conflict with his father (kidnapping the queen was partly what turned the tide in his favour) and, if Dreadstar and company can save her, they’ll have the ants on board. They do that. Big surprise...?

What this issue does is two big things: continue the Junior subplot (which I haven’t touched on much) and give some credence to Palafox’s view of events, painting his son as the true tyrant. Up until this point, it’s been a lot of hearsay about what the truth is, but with Rok holding the queen prisoner to keep the ants docile, there is a suggestion that he isn’t necessarily an honourable leader. After all, without their queen, the ants don’t just prevent themselves from opposing Rok, they lack all direction. Their society is in shambles because of the nature of the queen’s role there; she doesn’t just lead them as a figurehead, she directly commands things to keep working. Without her, her people are practically mindless. It is understandable to avoid any threats of rebellion from his father’s former allies, but Rok’s continued containment of the queen has robbed an entire race of everything that makes them who they are. If he was truly the reformer to his father’s tyrant, you would assume that he would find another way to live peacefully with the ants. You would almost assume that, with Palafox gone, they would naturally see the improvement and, over time, come around to see that Rok was correct. What does it say that he doesn’t allow that chance?

The evolution of the Junior subplot continues here with him using whatever abilities he has (now looking approximately ten years old) to get an ant to tell them what has happened. He doesn’t do much else this issue, but that’s a startling ability along with his quick aging. He’s shown other abilities involving energy manipulation and something akin to telekinesis. What’s especially notable is how normalised it seems at this point. With everyone so focused on the Palafox rebellion, the fact that Junior is aging rapidly and shows such abilities is less a cause for concern and more an asset. It’s hard to tell if this mimics the nature of a reader of this run. Judging by the letter pages, the mystery of Junior was definitely a key talking point... of the letters chosen... from those fans that actually wrote in. How many were reading along and had almost taken for granted that Junior is a strange creature that seems to be on the side of our heroes?

The casualness with which he overtakes the ant’s will is startling when you stop. A child that looks ten years old mentally controlling another living being while his guardians stand around, ready to take advantage of his skills? From a skewed perspective, this is less than healthy and a little disturbing. Even Iron Angel seems to pay Junior little attention at this point. That sense of complacency and comfort will prove costly.

Tomorrow: the final ally.

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