And then there were the good old cosmic days of Annihilation and beyond. Keith Giffen appeared out of nowhere (he doesn’t seem to work at Marvel very often) and wrote this amazing space epic that got just about every still-living cosmic character involved and subsequently revamped.
I suppose it’s debatable what falls under a blanket term like “Marvel Cosmic”. There are many series like Avengers that deal with some pretty cosmic events at times, but when I say it, I just mean the (mostly) strictly cosmic characters and events, most of which are from the same small handful of people and originate from the work of Jim Starlin (and usually involving Thanos somehow…).
Oh Dreadstar. Probably the best comic book that almost no one has heard of. I suppose I can see why not too many people have read it, since you still can’t get most of the series in any kind of reprint or modern format. Dynamite started doing hardcover reprints way back in 2004 and only ended up doing Volume 1 and a collection of the Metamorphosis Odyssey stories that led up to the Dreadstar ongoing series. Many years later they decided they weren’t selling well enough so canceled the hardcover of volume 2 and decided to start over again with paperback collections, then they released a paperback of the first volume again…and that was 4 years ago. They still insist that volume 2 is coming and push the release date back by 6 months about every 6 months. Exciting.
Anyway…as great as Starlin’s other classic cosmic-themed work is, for me this is his best stuff. It kind of feels like a mash up of everything he wanted to do with Captain Marvel, Warlock, and Thanos, but could never go as far as he wanted due to the censorship standards in superhero books at the time. Sci-fi and occult fantasy meet in the future as a group of rebels take on a sinister religious space empire and things go wrong for just about everyone, in much darker ways than Captain Marvel or Warlock ever saw.
About 2/3 of the way in, Starlin leaves the book in Peter David’s hands, who does a great job of continuing the legacy, though I’ve always been a little bothered by the ending, or basically the complete lack of an ending. When the series found itself canceled, David did what he used to do a lot back in the day and just gave up and turned the last few issues into a really awful joke storyline. I really love the guy’s work, but man I hated when he used to do that at the end of a series. Anyone ever attempting to read this series would be well advised to just skip issues 62-64 and jump right to the Bravura Dreadstar mini series that sort of wraps things up, though I wasn’t all that thrilled with that either. Seemed more like a failed attempt to get a new daughter of Dreadstar series off the ground than a real effort to finish the original story. In fact, maybe you should just stop after 61. I don’t know, that’s up to you.
That said, at least the big main plot that David had started from the first issue of his run got wrapped up before it all went to shit and overall Dreadstar is still an incredibly worthwhile read if you can find it *coughinternetcough*. Supposedly it’s getting turned into a tv show too, but I’ll believe that when I see it. There’s no way a story like this will get anything like the budget it needs to be worthwhile.