“I’ll kill her for that. She— Oh no. Not tears. Not tears. *choke* It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Damn her! This wasn’t supposed to happen!”
All Vanth Dreadstar is good for is war. For rebellion, for fighting, for strategy, for using his power. He is useless in peacetimes, in the in-between war times, in the aftermath. Jim Starlin’s final nine issues were a demonstration of just how useless he is. Without a cause, he has no purpose. Even with a cause, as we have recently seen, he has no meaningful purpose. Perhaps, if he just left after Lord Palafox resumed his duties as emperor, you could write him off as a naive goof who goes from conflict to conflict with no concern about what happens after. A mercenary almost, albeit one paid in adventure and war and self-righteousness. Instead, he stays. And he sees Palafox as he really is.
And he still doesn’t even seem to care what Junior may or may not be. Skeevo is beginning to wise up after Junior saved his life and, in the process, revealed what he really is to his ‘father.’ Except, he made Skeevo forget... but, apparently not completely as Skeevo dreams about it this issue, but can’t quite remember the details still. Meanwhile, Junior continues his efforts to win Iron Angel’s affections and is rebuffed, causing him to lose it. Next issue, we’ll see how much that drives him over the edge, but, right now, it’s clear that ignoring Junior is not wise. And, yet, Dreadstar is so focused on Palafox that he can’t see anything else.
First, he ruffles the new emperor’s feathers by refusing to bow; then, he questions the mass execution of all who stood with Rok against Palafox. Palafox is able to settled Dreadstar down by pointing out that everyone they’ve seen so far has been unrepentant and would remain a threat to his rule... until a prisoner says that he is sorry and will be loyal to Palafox and is still executed because Palafox says that he’s lying. It’s not until Cookie is brought forward, revealed already as a spy for Rok, that things come to a head. After Vanth protests, Palafox refrains from killing her... giving the honour to Oedi instead. He shoots at her, but misses and, when Dreadstar says that there will be no more killing, he’s named an enemy of the state and is slated for execution.
We’re not quite at a “Lord High Papal has shattered the sword and Dreadstar is about to die” low, but it’s not far off. While that was a deflating, depressing moment because Dreadstar failed, this is a deflating, depressing moment because he succeeded. That was a moment of another’s power besting his and, given that power is something that drives him, it was actually fitting. If he had died, it would have been terrible, but also... honourable? He lost, fair and square. Here, his blindness and willingness to fight for the wrong cause is the root of the problem. And, this is just the beginning. Things will get worse, all because he was so focused on using his power, fighting a war, having an adventure that he didn’t actually pay attention to anything.
Tomorrow, the other shoe drops.