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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Dreadstar #7 [1983]

Random Comics Theatre
Dreadstar #7 [1983]

I have to say, coming in on it all later, I never understood why Jim Starlin seemed to be such a mainstream comics super-star in the early 1980s. Admittedly I never did read much of his 1970s stuff, but even that seems to be a fairly small amount of stuff, however well regarded. But by the early 1980s he definitely did seem to be the big fish in the small pond of comics, getting to do, among other things, a few of the earliest graphic novels Marvel published. Plus of course DREADSTAR, which was the first regular comic in Marvel's Epic line.

Anyway, DREADSTAR #7 has the 22-page story "Mindtrap" by Starlin, with Josef Rubinstein doing the inking. Apparently, there's this big, powerfully built dictator named Lord Papal, who in no way resembles previous Starlin creations Thanos or Mongul, and none of them owe anything to Darkseid, so stop suggesting otherwise. Look, Papal is pale white, those other guys are purple, yellow and grey, respectively. Plus Papal has no nose[1]. So nothing like those guys.

Well, Darkseid is concerned about the charismatic Glorious Godfrey, and also about Orion, so he has DeSaad lay a trap for...

Sorry, let's try that again. Lord Papal is concerned bout the charismatic Maxilon, and also about Vanth Dreadstar, so he has Mezlo lay a trap for Dreadstar. It's tied in to the secret of the element catorlite, which Papal's Instrumentality prizes but has no known use. Dreadstar's curiosity about it, in particular how its apparent cancer causing properties might affect his friend who was mining the stuff, leads him to a remote outpost where he tries to access a computer, only to be detected by Mezlo and forced to battle on some psychic plane. Fortunately one of his friends follows along and turns the table.

Don't want this to sound like I'm totally down on Starlin. Some of his writing is good, and the art is solid enough. I just don't really get the source of his apparent popularity at the time, and I doubt I would have bought more than a few issues of this if I hadn't picked up the first dozen or so issues in one shot a few years later.

Also in this issue, an 8-page story by Bernie Wrightson, "Devolutionary Dilemma", which can probably best be described as "Wrightson wanted an excuse to draw a dinosaur, a fez-wearing scientist in a rolling bucket, a robot on a unicycle and a spacehip shaped like a woman". Which is as good an excuse for a story as I've ever seen. Not prime Wrightson, but goofy fun.

Starlin also does a back-cover pin-up of one of the supporting cast, Willow, and a really awful photo-comic with Daina Graziunas. Archie Goodwin, as is typical of early Epic comics, draws a self-portrait introduction inside the front cover.

[1] Sorry, gotta do it...
"Lord Papal has no nose."
"No nose? How does he smell?"
"Like Darkseid, um, I mean, really awful."

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