October 1984: Dreadstar 15 – Or, this is a bad guy from the Bond Villain school of dealing with heroes

Synopsis: Dreadstar 15 was written and drawn by Jim Starlin and opens with an unseen entity becoming aware once more and moving from the void of nothingness to awareness of what is going on as it sees the fallen body of Vanth Dreadstar, the leader of the rebellion against the Instrumentality, which rules the Empirical galaxy. It seems this rebellion has suffered a massive defeat by the Instrumentality’s leader the Lord Papal.


The team (Willow, Doctor Delphi, Oedi, Syzygy Darklock and Skeevo Phlatus) wonder what to do with a rapidly dying Vanth. Who’s life was extented and protected by a ‘magic’ sword which was sharred by the Lord Papal. On the homeworld of the Instrumentality, the Lord Papal is just assuming that Dreadstar is already dead and arranges to send two of his enhanced soldiers (Infra Red and Ultra Violet) along with a general and a cardinal to retrieve the rest of the team. He knows that if he does this, the galaxy is truly his.

On the planet with Vanth dying on it, it’s still going badly. The team is tense and Syzygy is feeling so very useless to help one of his best friends. When Willow tells him that she saw this happening before it happened, Syzygy has a plan to use his and Willow’s powers to go inside the sword. They get inside and speak to the entity within.


The entity talks to them, altering it’s perception of time to talk and explain that it was once a humanoid that was destroyed and Aknaton merged it into the sword. Now the sword has been destroyed and both it and Vanth will die unless they are merged together. The entity shows Sygygy how to do this and the power that was in the sword is transferred into the dying body of Vanth Dreadstar.

After an impressive light show, Vanth wakes up, his eyes are a different colour that before, but his youth and vigour have returned. With the power moved from the sword to him, he has even greater strength as well as new unique energy based powers and even flight. He takes command of the team again and tells them to get off-world as soon  as possible and rendezvous with him later. He is going nowhere. The Lord Papal and his assassins are coming back and his new powers need to be tested.

Notes: Nothing much happens here, it’s very much the after it hits the fan sort of story. That said, a story teller as good as Starlin can do a lot with that. The narrative device of the broken sword narrating the story is insightful and allows people that aren’t as familiar with Dreadstar to enjoy the story as well as people who were there the previous issue. This story is a respite between the last big story and the next one and adds some depth to Vanth and his relationship to his powers and the previous galaxy. Completely lacking in depth is the Bond Villain-esque Lord Papal (one of Starlin’s several religious demagogue bad guys) who just accepts that Vanth is dead and the rest of his team is not an urgent problem. The art is eye catching, detailed and flows rather nicely and the character design is varied. This was a nice little read, but mostly in that it makes me want to re-read the Dreadstar stories from the beginning.

Next Time: Wizards, demons, barbarians and the X-Men?


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