“Would you have all that is within my power to give you?”
The Power returns in this issue, personified as a woman for Vanth Dreadstar to speak with, hold, kiss… and to sacrifice all that she is for him. It’s a stark contrast to the relationship that’s been developing between Junior and the sword of control where its feminine personification is jealous, petty, and (surprise surprise) controlling. As established by Jim Starlin, the Power is supportive and willing to give anything for Dreadstar.
Here, she manages to give him even more power (in her way) with the return of the sword. Fashioning it out of a piece of Ondru’s stone that fell from the sky, the sword becomes a repository of the Power. When the sword is there, Dreadstar loses most (if not all) of his superhuman abilities – and they return when the sword is made to vanish. It’s a logical extension of the progression of powers that Starlin began, finding a happy medium between where the character began and where he wound up. Now, he is both the swordsman and the superman, just not at the same time.
Junior, on the other hand, finds himself with a sword (and possible lover) that is nothing but jealous fits and hard, sharp edges. There is no hint that she will sacrifice a thing for him; instead, he is the one asked to give of himself to her. The sword of power gives to its possessor, while the sword of control takes. It’s a further distinction between the two concepts and their roles. Junior stands in pure opposition to Dreadstar in so many ways right down to the similar lengths of hair between the two, but one is blonde, the other brown; one is straight, the other wavy. Junior has aged rapidly, while Dreadstar has aged slowly. Dreadstar is loyal to his friends and family, Junior turns his back on them. Dreadstar has power, Junior wants control. The distinctions will grow over time, but the scenes with the two swords/power sources is what draws the parallel/distinction most sharply.
Even the way that Dreadstar is welcomed into the world of the Power, while the personification of the sword of control always invades the real world. The former offers sanctuary and comfort, while the other looks to overpower and subsume. When rebuffed, the sword of control lashes out at Junior, turning her power on him, while the sword of power looks for every opportunity to aid and comfort Dreadstar… It’s a cruel joke that Peter David plays on the characters as, if there is a character that needs mothering and safety, it’s the young Junior who is on the verge of madness, while Dreadstar would offer the maturity and self-assuredness (theoretically) to hold his own with the sword of control. It’s apparent before their next conflict who is already in a better place, both mentally and physically.
Even the contrast here between Ondru and Palafox adds to the two characters. Again, supportive and helpful played against cloying, controlling, and insincere. Ondru just met Dreadstar and offers whatever help he can provide; Palafox secretly schemes against Junior and offers transparently false words of concern that Junior barely tolerates.
After his mental break, Dreadstar has been slowly recovering and this is the issue where he’s made whole in a sense. Once again, the Power rejuvenates him, mentally and physically.
Tomorrow: the mystery of Junior revealed.
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