Three members of Dreadstar and Company are taken down. Can you guess who?
Dreadstar #23 ("Hunters!") by Jim Starlin is where Things Get Very Much Worse. Monalo and his team go after Dreadstar and Company, and you know how you know it will be bad? The issue begins with Gecko Lingus taking out Skeevo. One member down on the first page. That Skeevo is the most useless member of the group doesn't really matter. (Though, remember, originally, he wasn't even a target for Monalo's team. He was only included so Lingus would have SOMETHING to do with Oedi dead.) The issue is told in a very straight-forward, linear fashion, not jumping between different scenes really. With Skeevo down, we get a quick recap before focusing on Infra Red and Ultra Violet taking on Syzygy while Monalo monitors the situation on a Destroyer.
What I like best about the fight between the Energy Cousins and Syzygy is that Starlin finds a way to do it in a different way from their first fight. He builds on what happened there, creating new spots, and attacks. It begins with Syzygy floating in silent meditation and Infra Red attack him after Syzygy makes another attempt to convince them that they're fighting on the wrong side... but he's not there! It's a projection! The real Syzygy was hiding under cover and attacks them from behind. He throws out a bunch of trans-dimensional portals that Infra Red hits and, coming out of it, runs straight into a mountain because that's where the exit was placed. Syzygy gains the first victory in the fight through intelligence, learning from his previous experience. From there, he uses a few more tricks, including creating dozens of projections of himself to confused Ultra Violet. But, their fight is cut short when Monalo telepathically commands the gunnery officer on the Destroyer to fire a missile at the battle. Ultra Violet escapes with ease, while Syzygy is a little too slow and the fallout causes him to crash and fall unconscious. Meanwhile, on the ship, Monalo kills the gunner officer for firing without any orders -- because Monalo only commanded him telepathically, no one else knows that it was Monalo's order. It's a nice repeat of the Lord High Papal's decision to nuke a city back in issue three and, in the process, gave the Energy Cousins their powers.
With Syzygy down, the rest of the issue is the fight between Dreadstar and Mass, the shapechanging monster. It's actually surprisingly quick as Mass makes quick work of Dreadstar, constantly adapting and changing to counter any attacks. While Skeevo being taken out quickly wasn't a surprise, the ease with which Dreadstar is put down is very surprising. Mass does it quicker than even the Lord High Papal could manage. Syzygy even faired better! All that leaves is Willow and she's Monalo's target. The final panel of the issue is the Lord High Papal's hand snuffing out three candles, leaving only one.
Starlin is at his best during the Syzygy/Energy Cousins fight. I really like the two pages where Infra Red deals with the trans-dimensional portals because it's weird shapes and bold colours. The pages really pop. I love the designs of the Energy Cousins. Some of the early pencil work is weak, but he really gets into it for the fight. Lots of detail and energy.
The Syzygy/Energy Cousins fight is one of my favourites. It's Starlin showing people how to build on previous encounters and create something new. Overall, it's a surprising issue with all but one of the group taken down and captured.
Next issue: Willow vs. Monalo!