Dreadstar December 2 – Dreadstar #56

“I’m Catman.”

This is the worst issue of the Peter David Dreadstar run. If I were more inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt, everything that I write below could be spun in a positive manner. But, that’s the way she goes sometimes, boys. Sometimes, a bad comic is a bad comic is a bad comic no matter what bullshit I come up with to make it sound ‘interesting’ and ‘thoughtful’ and ‘far better planned and thought out than it actually was.’

The core bit of this issue isn’t actually bad: on the planet the Piskayne (the timid cat people of this galaxy who are often slaves), Oedi and Cookie dress up as superheroes (Catman and Cookie) to fight crime and, generally, play off the Batman movie. David has mixed in different popculture references to this point to varying success and this one could make for some good comedy – and does in a few spots. However, it also goes off the rails in a manner that doesn’t work well within the larger context of Dreadstar.

In the process of being Catman, Oedi inspires the entire population to rise up in rebellion against any and all oppressors. After, from what I can tell, two days of dressing up as Catman. The overthrowing of a government has been a central part of Dreadstar from its beginning and has always been a long, complicated process, one where the populace often stands neutral (or as an enemy) because it has been so conditioned to accept the status quo that any change is bad and takes time to properly sink in. Here, it happens in no time whatsoever after generations of the Piskayne population being timid and pacific. It is not just an upheaval of the political culture of this planet, it is an entire mass cultural movement after generations of efforts to subsume all aggressive tendencies... and it happens in two days.

Is it meant to be a joke? Catman clearly does, but the uprising? I can’t tell and, really, it doesn’t matter either way. It undercuts a large part of this comic and not in an insightful, deconstructionist manner as David’s criticism of Vanth Dreadstar have; it takes large complex plotpoints (including his own) and turns them into three pages of... what? I don’t know. There’s a difference between taking a heroic character and repositioning him in a more villainous (or neutral) role for the purpose of demonstrating that, no, he has not been a force for good and taking the idea of governmental upheaval and cultural change and making it as simple as “People, stop being oppressed!” and having them all go “Okay!” It’s laughably simplistic and does not really fit in with what came before nor what comes after this issue. It stands out in a very bad way. It’s like David wanted to do more with the Piskayne, showing them casting off their lives as meek slaves, but didn’t have the space in his plans for it and took the lazy way out.

Tomorrow: something better. I mean, it’d have to be, right?

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