“Do you get it yet, Papal? You’re Lord High Nothing here! This time you’re the intruder into my galaxy! You’re the one who’s going where he’s not wanted. Even when you commanded armies, and legions trembled before you, you couldn’t beat me! How in god’s name do you think to now?”
The Lord High Papal is back. Dreadstar #61 was cover dated December 1990. Silver Surfer #34 was cover dated February 1990. That was the first issue of Jim Starlin’s run on the title and featured the return of Thanos. Maybe Peter David had this planned all along, but it’s difficult to not see a connection between the two, especially in light of my reading of his run, which is steeped in Starlin’s work, both on this book and elsewhere. David seems to be writing not just a Dreadstar comic, but a Starlin comic – or, at least, one that comments upon Starlin’s work and plays with what he does. So, Thanos, his big Marvel cosmic baddie returns... that means the Lord High Papal comes back, too, without the tethers of his government or even the 12 Gods.
His return is less a compelling event and more... ‘fan service’ seems wrong, but a mindless fight sums it up, I suppose. He and Dreadstar pick up where they left off with a long brawl with lots of posturing and long-winded speeches/proclamations about each’s superiority to the other. It’s not quite parody, but it’s not quite serious either. And yet... come on, it’s pretty damn cool. That moment where the Papal looks up and realises that he is in another galaxy and seems lost for a second before recovering quickly with a wave of “Oh well, I’ll just kill you all anyway.”
In many ways, this is a move towards mediocrity. The cyclical nature of Dreadstar becomes even more apparent and the Lord High Papal shifts from personification of the government corruption of power to a more tangible villain. He’s less this large authority figurehead that Dreadstar and company can pin all of the ills of the galaxy on and, now, a very personal nemesis positioned to return again and again and again to be a thorn in Dreadstar’s side, always to be defeated and run away tail tucked between his legs. It’s almost a good thing that the title ends soon, before that could happen.
The other big moment of this issue is Willow putting her consciousness in Iron Angel’s body, a move that’s both disturbing and logical, and, most importantly, a reset of sorts similar to the return of the Lord High Papal. David has continued the idea that Willow not-so-secretly pines for Vanth and, now, she’s back in a position to do so in a way where it just may be possible for them to get together and does so without her powers being somewhat out of control like the final nine issues of Starlin’s run.
The Lord High Papal is back. So is Willow. Dreadstar is Dreadstar again!
Tomorrow: Skeevo and company.