Wednesday, November 25, 2020


Darkstars #12 (September 1993)
title: "Aftershock"
writer: Michael Jan Friedman
penciler: Mitch Byrd
inker: Ken Branch
colorist: Steve Mattson
letterer: Bob Pinaha
editor: Brian Augustyn

Recap: Several planets came under attack by mysterious, powerful beings. After Green Lantern encountered one, he returned to Oa and explained to the Guardians what happened. They recognized the name of Quarra and were terrified that it meant the return of the Triarch, a race of Gods from Maltus, the same homeworld as the Guardians. Long before the Guardians or Controllers existed, the Triarch slayed their own father, Daalon. The three that made up the Triarch were Quarra the Creator, Archor the Sustainer, and Tzodar the Destroyer. They departed Maltus but promised to one day return and lay waste to the planet, which would supposedly renew the universe.

On the planet Elyrion, the Darkstars battled Archor and suffered several casualties. Meanwhile, the L.E.G.I.O.N. were setting up a new base on Maltus when they come under attack by Tzodar. Green Lantern arrived to help but did not fair well. When Hal awakened, he found a very angry Vril Dox awaiting him. They argued and Dox ordered Lobo to subdue Hal. Eventually, Comet interrupted Lobo's battle because they received new orders and were told to leave Jordan to the newly arrived Darkstars, led by Colos. However, they were more concerned with seeking revenge on the Triarch and suggested an alliance with Jordan. Meanwhile, the Controllers learned of the Triarch's return, and since their legends said the Triarch must succeed at their mission, they sent other Darkstars to stop Jordan. The two teams of Darkstars battled as Killowag arrived with reinforcements. This was just the distraction Dox hoped for so he could have time to locate the father of the Triarch, who was imprisoned but still alive. Dox succeeds in awakening him and learns that he is not really their father, but instead their creator. He built the Triarch in a laboratory to fulfill their legends of a Holy Trinity.

Hal Jordan had convinced Captain Comet and Colos of the Darkstars to put aside their differences and unite to stop the Triarch. Unfortunately, the battle did not go well, and as Colos says, they "just got our heads handed to us." They also see that the destruction caused by the Triarch has been even worse than they realized.

The new L.E.G.I.O.N. recruits stand at the spot where their teammate Borbb was annihilated, and swear vengeance, but Kilowog stops them from rushing foolishly into battle. The three teams gather and Dox explains that the Triarch are not true Gods, no matter how powerful they seem. Their father confirms that he gave life to them in a laboratory, which gives everyone hope that there may be a way to beat them after all.
While Dox, Hal Jordan, and Colos try to get more information from the Controller, Kilowog leads everyone else into battle. Phase and Stealth fly towards Tzodar and try to remind him that he is not the God he thinks he is. Tzodar rejects what they say as lies, but his siblings are disturbed by their words. Stealth suggests that they do not really remember the beginnings of the universe as they claim, but that everything they know was programmed into their minds. Quarra realizes that she can describe the beginning, recite the facts around it, but not actually remember it.
Dox is growing frustrated that the Controller claims to have trouble remembering the distant past. Dox and Colos warn him that without his help, the Triarch will turn Maltus into a ghost world. Instead of feeling horrified, the Controller's expression changes and he reveals that everything is going exactly according to his plan.
The Controller goes to join his creations, and Hal and Colos follow to stop him. He proves too powerful so the two heroes then turn their attention to Vril Dox. 
After chewing out Dox, the two return to the battle against the Triarch. Phase and Stealth's plan has had some success, and the doubt experienced by the Triarch has weakened them.
The Controller interrupts the fight to introduce himself to his creations. They recognize their "father" and he tells them he is there to provide a focus for their powers and help them fulfill their sacred destiny. At his words, the Triarch dismiss any self doubt and once more unite against Maltus and our heroes.
I was fairly harsh in my review of the first half of this crossover event, but this was the second issue in a row where I found myself growing invested in the story. Once again, we saw some real progress as the Triarch's father was revealed to not be the ally that Dox was hoping for. Although, I was a bit bugged by how easily Dox seemed to trust the Controller. Yes, he was killed by the Triarch, which would at least raise the possibility that he might want to help our heroes. However, he also freely admitted to creating them to fulfill their legend of the Holy Trinity, which we know would mean destroying Maltus. For a super-genius, Dox seemed oblivious to the potential danger here and far too eager to trust the Controller.

Despite that annoyance, I otherwise really enjoyed this issue. Even though this was not a L.E.G.I.O.N. installment, Phase and Stealth got to shine a little when they successfully made the Triarch began to doubt themselves. We also got to check in with the new recruits as they mourned Borrb, who was one of my favorites from their group. I also liked seeing Colos and Hal confronting Dox, even if Dox continued to project his usual confidence. He clearly dropped the ball here in a way we do not often see. It was particularly interesting in that Dox had repeatedly expressed distain for both the Green Lantern Corps and Darkstars as puppets of their creators, and he obviously sees the L.E.G.I.O.N. as inherently superior because...well, because it's his.

One aspect of this crossover that I have consistently appreciated is having Hal be the one who always tries to unite everyone against the Triarch, while Dox was off on his own pursuing his own agenda the whole time. After all, Hal was considered the "greatest" Green Lantern at this time, and had been a member of the Justice League. Whatever showboating tendencies he had, it makes sense that in the midst of battle, he would be the uniter. At the same time, Dox has one of the biggest egos in the galaxy and a long history of thinking that he, and he alone, knows whats best. As much as I scoffed at the idea of Dox being blind to the danger of the Controller, it is conceivable that in Dox's effort to prove that his team was the most superior, he became distracted from risks he might otherwise have seen.

I still do not find myself that interested in the Darkstars, but that did not take away from this issue, and at least Colos is pretty likable. We finally reached our conclusion next week so please check back with me to learn the fate of Maltus in Trinity #2!

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