Review: Dreadstar #1

Dreadstar #1 cover
Cover by Jim Starlin

Dreadstar #1
Published by Epic (Marvel) and © by Jim Starlin, November 1982

Title: “The Quest”
Synopsis: A small team of revolutionaries led by Vanth Dreadstar seeks funding to challenge the rule of the increasingly powerful Instrumentality.

Writer: Jim Starlin
Artist: Starlin

Review: In the early 1980s, several comics companies – Capital, Eclipse, Pacific, etc.  – emerged to challenge the “Big Two,” using creator-friendly contracts to help attract top talent. Marvel responded with its own line of creator-owned titles, known as Epic Comics. The first of these comics was Dreadstar, by Bronze Age legend Jim Starlin. While not on par with his classic Marvel work from the 1970s, this debut issue is still quite good. The script is dense and demanding, but it gets solid support from Starlin’s still-strong visual storytelling. Later issues would fade, but this first issue is thick with opportunity.

Grade: A-

Second opinion: “Dreadstar (the comic) left me in a funk of nagging confusion and dissatisfaction.” – Kevin McConnell, Amazing Heroes #23, May 1983  … “This comic continues where earlier chapters left off. These preceding episodes may have lacked vision, but they at least have the redeeming feature of structure. Here, the plot, what there is of it, meanders in all directions.” – Pete Campbell, Fantasy Advertiser #87, October 1984 … Recommended by The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003.

Cool factor: It’s Starlin doing cosmic. There was time when that was a can’t-lose combination.

Notable: Dreadstar was a continuation of Starlin’s “Metamorphosis Odyssey” story, which started as a serial in Epic Illustrated, and two graphic novels, Eclipse’s “The Price” and Marvel Graphic Novel #3. According to editor Archie Goodwin (in one of this issue’s introductory essay), the story line was going to continue as an ongoing, black-and-white feature in Marvel’s Bizarre Adventures, but became Epic’s first regular comic-book series instead.

Character quotable: “There is no way for them to easily silence us! For we are backed by the power of the Dreadstar!” – Oedi, Dreadstar’s cat-man sidekick

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on Feb. 10, 2010.

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