Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dreadstar #1

The universe-spanning, end of the universe epic is a mainstay of today's comic books.

Even now Marvel and DC Comics (and few other smaller publishers) are in the midst of universe-altering mega-events that promise to 'change everything' and 'shake things up'.

In truth it's just a clever ploy to reinvent companies and draw in new readers while trying not to alienate current readers and collectors.  After all, if things change too much current comic book readers and collectors might bail because nothing of the old universes still exist.  The result, fewer readers, a dwindling collectors' market and no sense of history or continuity.

As I mentioned in a past review Marvel Comics' Galactus Trilogy set the standard by which a comic book 'epic' was created.

Both Marvel, DC and countless other publishers have used that concept to good use...but.. there is one individual who has honed it to perfection.

Jim Starlin began his professional comic book artist and writer career at Marvel Comics in the 1970s.  During the Bronze Age Jim successfully established himself as the 'epic' creator.

His runs on Warlock and Captain Marvel are still lauded today and for good reason.

Both series introduced readers to powerful cosmic forces, evil empires and casts of characters that are as popular today as they were when they were first created.  Gamorra and Drak The Destroyer (amongst others) ring any bells?

No one could compete with Stalin's mastery of the mega-epic.  In fact, each summer nearly all comic book companies create an epic mega-series that ties in its various comic book titles.  

Case in point: Marvel's current Secret War epic and DC's Convergence and Divergence.

Creating epics for comic book companies are one thing.  After all, creating characters while on a title makes that character(s) property of the comic book publisher.

During the early 1980s artists/writers took notice of the direct sales market and the growing phenomenon: creator rights.

While Jim Starlin could be counted on to create stellar comic book tales for whatever company he worked for at the time the itch was still there to own his own creations.

When Marvel Comics introduced its Epic Comics line Jim was first in line to come up with his own property: Dreadstar.

He created a true epic, spectacular n its scope and if you were savvy enough to notice Jim slipped in a few references to his previous galactic-spanning prose seen in Warlock and Captain Marvel.  Dreadstar was fist introduced in a graphic novel and then its own series.

The story was a simple one.  Dreadstar, the sole survivor of a destroyed solar system, wanted only to live in peace.  Unfortunately powerful evil forces force him to take a stand and so, he, and a band of misfits, take on the dark forces that rule the universe.

Jim's story-telling and artistic creation shined-his work had never been better.

Unshackled by the Comics Code or editorial dictates of a mother company Jim let his imagination, art and prose explode. 

Dreadstar, like Jim's earlier work on Warlock and Captain Marvel, set the bar high for creative excellence.
Recently it was announced Dreadstar is making its return.  Over the years Jim has continued to work for various companies (his Dreadstar found a home at the now defunct First Comics with an impressive run).

His talent for turning convention on its ear is legendary.  Currently he is best known to comic book readers as the father of Thanos and the various 'Infinity' storylines.

Regardless the title he works on Jim Starlin continues to pump out universe-altering epics.