“And we’re even in a worse shape than when we faced the Papal... because we don’t have Syz, our friendly sorcerer around. Damn. I miss him.”
The moment where things seem at their lowest and, then, get lower... it’s familiar Dreadstar territory. The most notable example was when the Lord High Papal shattered the sword of power and Dreadstar barely survived. But, the lows have always been lower for this series than most. This is an issue of reconfiguration and managing to sink even lower after Dreadstar had a mental break, slaughtered dozens of men, ripped off Iron Angel’s arm, and failed to prevent Junior from claiming the sword of control.
This is the issue where Teuton is turned against Dreadstar and company by one of Palafox’s men after his capture. The character began life as a Hulk joke by Jim Starlin, shouting “Teuton (verb)!” as he tried to kill Oedi and Skeevo on behalf of the Lord High Papal, eventually succumbing to a large fall to sideline him. When he later returned, he was again defeated by a fall from a great height. In Peter David’s run, it’s been something of a running joke that Teuton falls a lot. It’s become the Andy Dick Newsradio cold open of the book. He’s basically been dumb muscle that falls for Dreadstar and company, and, here, that ‘dumb’ part is used to turn the character against his friends. It’s a good way to kick the group when it’s down, especially after small ‘wins’ like Skeevo reattaching Iron Angel’s arms or Cookie suggesting that they seek a Piskayne mystic who could possibly aid them. The issue presents a moment or two of glimmering hope that Teuton destroys with his feint of friendship followed by an attack.
Ironically, it takes brainwashing for Teuton to turn against Dreadstar after a few issues where a case was laid out for all of his friends to abandon him. The way that Vanth pines over the loss of Syzygy has me wondering if his absence is a big part of the problem. As it is now, Dreadstar is not just the leader, but also shoulders a large amount of the workload given that he has the most power by far. When Syzygy was around, he was more like Dreadstar’s co-pilot, someone of relatively equal stature. While Dreadstar was the leader, Syzygy was someone he could plot and strategise with, and even look at as someone on equal footing. The closest he has here is Oedi, but even Oedi is still more of a ‘trusted right-hand man’ sort of character than a true equal.
There’s a power imbalance in the group, which is one of the reasons why they were so taken in by Palafox. It’s safe to assume that Syzygy would have seen Palafox for what he is – and more than that, Dreadstar would have listened to him. When both Iron Angel and Oedi voiced reservations, Dreadstar dismissed them, and continued pitching the idea until they relented. Without someone like Syzygy, it’s definitely ‘Dreadstar and company’ more than it was before, and that’s been to their detriment.