Jim Starlin has drawn classic issues of many major comic book characters since the early 1970s, including Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Legion of Super Heroes, and more. But his real claim to fame is his artistic obsession — both as an artist, and a writer — with exploring mythological archetypes on a meta-galactic scale. Starlin pioneered characters like Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock, and also created Thanos, Drax, Gamora, and many other characters that were thematically fascinating but never commercially successful until the recent explosion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
One of Starlin's pet projects in the early 80s was a book called Dreadstar. Dreadstar existed in its own universe outside of Marvel and DC, and gave Starlin a vessel through which he could continue to explore the philosophical implications of literary classics with a shameless embrace of pulpy space opera, and this time without (too much) corporate meddling.
Nearly four decades later, Starlin is returning to the Dreadstar universe with a new Kickstarter-funded original graphic novel that already raised more than $50,000 in the first few days — a testament to the cross-generational appeal of Starlin's work. From the campaign page:
The original, long-running Dreadstar series centered on the exploits of Vanth Dreadstar, newly arrived in the Empirical Galaxy after the necessary destruction of the Milky Way. Vanth attempts to live a pastoral existence on a planet populated by peaceful cat-people. That peace is quickly disturbed when Dreadstar and the crew he assembles are thrust into the conflict between the two major forces in the galaxy: The Monarchy and the Theocratical Instrumentality and its Lord High Papal.
Many years later, the battle continues in new and surprising ways…
Originally published by Epic Comics in the early 80's, Dreadstar's story was crafted through the singular vision of series creator Jim Starlin who, working with several inkers over the years, as well as several different publishers, created an unparalleled, cosmic body of work that was finally collected in its ultimate, Omnibus format by Creation.Ink.
Over the last 5 years or so, Starlin has cranked out a series of 6 (I think) self-contained graphic novels for Marvel Comics that focused mostly on the philosophical debates between Thanos and Adam Warlock (One being a noble champion of death, the other being a bioengineered pseudo-Christ super soldier, and them together being Best Frenemies For Life). These books existed outside of normal Marvel continuity; as far as I could tell, they were the company throwing him a bone after the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. I consumed them all over a single weekend about a year ago, and I loved the way they used these crazy cosmic space battles as a background excuse to explore some very metaphysical and difficult concepts about good and evil, space and time, and so much more. So I presume that Starlin's new Dreadstar series will be a continuation of that in many ways — and if I'm right, then I couldn't be more excited.
If you jump on the Kickstarter campaign now, you can get a digital copy of the new Dreadstar for just $20, or a hardcover for $30.
Dreadstar Returns [Jim Starlin / Kickstarter]
Thanos Creator Jim Starlin Returns to Drawing Comics for Crowdfunded Campaign [Graeme McMillan / The Hollywood Reporter]