Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar

Jim Starlin has been involved in comics since the early 70’s working for just about every publisher out there. He is best known however for his space opera stories; for revamping the Marvel Comics characters Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock; and for creating or co-creating the Marvel characters Thanos, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora and Shang-Chi. These latter characters became even more well known due to their presence in the MCU. Shang-Chi, who he co-created with Steve Engleheart, is coming to the MCU in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings which is tentatively scheduled for September of 2021. However, during the 1980’s, Jim created a character called Vanth Dreadstar for Marvel’s Epic Illustrated. This eventually became a 64 issue comic between Epic Comics and First Comics. And while the character was seen occasionally in various books, Starlin had not quite finished with him.

Fighting Through Adversity

Although, any plans he had to create another chapter in the Dreadstar Universe got derailed temporarily in 2016. This is when Jim injured his drawing hand in a freak accident. It was during that time that he questioned if he would ever draw again. Fortunately for fans, through some hard work and constant hand manipulation, he was able to once again man his drawing board. And who better to bring back than his Dreadstar Character.

Thus between 2019 and the beginning of the COVID rid 2020, Jim worked on his new book Dreadstar Returns, bringing back his cast of characters and recruiting inker Jaime Jameson and Letterer Dave LanPhear to bring his vision to life. By April 2020, he initiated a Kickstart Campaign to help bring the 100 pg. Dreadstar Returns to fruition. The campaign was a great success. At the time of this review, he is in the final stages of sending the completed book to those who participated. So let’s take a look see at the book that almost didn’t happen due to his injury. Let’s look at Ominous Press’ Dreadstar Returns.

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Vanth Dreadstar: Willow Consortium Fixer

As you can see from the sample pages, Vanth is doing what he does best. He is basically a fixer. When given the task of cleaning up bad governments or corrupt rulers, he excels at the job. What he doesn’t have ANY interest in is being involved after the fact. He has no inclination to rule or be in charge of anything. Its basically clean up the refuge and take out the trash. Let people who are better suited and have an interest in governance do the pencil pushing. All Vanth cares about is the next assignment.

Willow Returns in the Flesh

The next assignment involves a danger of a cosmic nature. So much so that it brings their friend Willow back to the world of the living. For the longest time, Willow 327 was content to surrender the flesh and control the Willow Consortium (which is the group that controls and maintains the governments that Vanth liberates) existing as the Consortium’s AI. The reason she has come back is that the danger they are facing is calling out to her by name. She believes that the cause of this threat is someone from her past. Thus she is compelled to investigate and hopefully, put an end to it.

Accompanying her along with Vanth will be Oedi, a cat like being who is the last of his race. He serves as a lead officer in the Willow Consortium’s Special Forces Unit. Also joining the team is Tueton. The musclebound Tueton is always ready for a fight. Unfortunately, he apparently traded brain cells for muscles. Regardless, if you are heading toward a fight, you want Tueton at your side. At this point, the team must follow Willow and breach a multi-dimensional void, facing apparent old enemies and mind warping visuals to find the source of the danger. This is brought to fruition with Starlin’s normal cosmic skills. As to what transpires, that is for you dear reader, to learn.

Bringing New Readers into the Fold

One of the challenges Starlin faced when bringing Dreadstar back was getting those unfamiliar with the character up to speed, short of going back to back issues and re-educating them. (I was one of that number.) Jim took care of those who came in fresh by revisiting certain past events as the story progresses. By doing so, new readers can follow along with the action while past fans can read through these excerpts with nostalgia. As for the story itself, it is classic Jim Starlin with a cosmic being and events of possible universe changing consequences. The main story basically centers on the love of one man and how love can sometimes overcome even possible cataclysmic events. But does it resolve everything? Only reading Dreadstar Returns will answer that question.

Jim Starlin Still Rules

The best thing I see in this book is that Jim’s talent for drawing is still strong. When combined with Jaime Jameson’s strong inking work, the book looks like classic Starlin. This is great news for future books which, from our recent interview with Jim and Jaime, is already underway. The fact that Miss Jameson had to overcome a bout of COVID herself during the production of Dreadstar Returns makes the results even more impressive. These two creative warriors really wanted this. If you were a fan of the original Dreadstar or just a fan of Jim Starlin, you should definitely check out Dreadstar Returns. It proves that the legendary creator still has a full tank of creativity left. While the multi-talented Miss Jameson has a promising career ahead of her. Please listen to our full interview with Jim and Jaime here.

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