“Your sins have come back to haunt you.”
Junior is the living embodiment of the Twelve Gods of the Instrumentality who Syzygy and Dreadstar basically told to get out of their galaxy and don’t come back. And, now, they wield the sword of control, which is the power of another set of dark gods. While cool, it also reads as rushed and a little half-baked. I don’t think an explanation is required, but that’s partly because none is given. Junior simply is what he is and that’s that.
Issue 60 thunders ahead at insane speed, barely holding itself together as both Junior and Palafox are taken on by Dreadstar and company with neither surviving. Palafox dies at the hands of Debardinis, who is half-dead himself, while Junior stabs himself with the sword of control after he is unable to kill Iron Angel. It’s actually a fitting Starlinesque conclusion for Junior, undone by his own inner turmoil rather than the actions of the heroes. Just as Thanos would defeat himself, so too does Junior. Undone by the promise of love that proves to be a lie. If there’s anything in this issue that works beyond it, it’s that idea.
David has spent many issues setting up the idea that Junior taking corporeal form has somehow weakened him, made him less pure or able to be what he is supposed to be. He’s presented here as the living revenge against Dreadstar, more than his match when it comes to power, and the only thing that stops him from killing Dreadstar and enslaving the galaxy is Iron Angel telling him that she loves him. She later reveals that it’s a lie, but that doesn’t stop the spirit of Junior from stealing her spirit from her body, echoing the love/death connection of Thanos.
As the conclusion (kind of) of the story the entire run has been building towards, its resolution is fitting with the message of the entire run: Vanth Dreadstar doesn’t win, he just doesn’t lose. Victory is actually meaningless as there is no winning a conflict like this. Iron Angel’s body is left without a soul and, as a parting gift, Junior resurrects the Lord High Papal. It’s all circular conflict as new wars are actually old wars fought again. In fighting his twisted self in the form of Junior, Dreadstar is actually fighting against himself, only winning because his opponent chose love over war. He once tried that, but has long abandoned that idea, giving himself over to conflict. And, in the end, Junior doesn’t embrace love, he uses it as an excuse for an even more violence, ripping Angel’s soul from her body... Even love is war. Even when the war ends, people keep dying and it starts again immediately...
The circular nature of Dreadstar is more nihilistic than anything done with Thanos. At least Thanos was capable of change and moving past his self-destructive cycles. All Vanth Dreadstar has is dead women and sword fights and power versus power. And the Lord High Papal. Again.
Tomorrow: “People Who Hate Papal.”