Jim Starlin doesn’t start fights, but he doesn’t walk away from them either.
“A certain politician using a character of mine in one of his political ads may have riled me a bit,” Starlin tells Inverse. “I figured he was open game at that point.”
The politician Starlin is referring to is Donald Trump. The political ad was a video shared on Trump’s Twitter in 2019 in which the former president’s face was superimposed onto Marvel supervillain Thanos’ body during the final moments of Avengers: Endgame.
“I am inevitable,” the soon-to-be ex-president gloated.
We all know what happened next, both in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the 2020 presidential election.
For Starlin, who created Thanos and other Marvel characters including Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, and Shang-Chi (he also wrote the Infinity Gauntlet comics that inspired Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame), that was the last straw. He channeled his rage into a new character who should seem familiar to pretty much anyone who picks up a copy of Starlin’s latest comic book, Dreadstar Returns.
The result is a Plunddo Tram, an anagram of Donald Trump and an evil alien king who shows up in the first pages of Deadstar Returns. The similarities between the two are obvious, and Starlin isn’t trying to be subtle. You might say subtlety went out the window after Trump tweeted a video of his face on Thanos’ body moments before the supervillain is defeated and turned to dust in Avengers: Endgame.
“He didn't see that it was the moment of the character’s loss he was plagiarizing or stealing or satirizing,” Starlin says, laughing.
“He obviously didn't see Avengers: Endgame,” adds Jaime Jameson, who partnered with Starlin to provide the inking on Dreadstar Returns.
Starlin and Jameson’s new comic, which picks up the adventures Vanth Dreadstar — a spacefaring warrior and the last survivor of the Milky Way galaxy who Starlin created in the 1980s — opens with an unmistakable political parody, but Trump/Tram isn’t the focus of this story.
“It starts off with Plunddo and it veers into a cosmic unrequited love story,” Starlin says. “That's what the main story is. Plunddo is a is sort of an amusing diversion at the beginning.”
Thankfully, before the story moves on, Plunddo meets his end in the most fitting way possible.
Coming in at 100 pages, the first volume of Dreadstar Returns, available now from Ominous Press, is just the beginning of an epic new adventure. Starlin and Jameson are currently hard at work on a second volume, with plans for a total of five.
“I'm 60 pages into the next one,” Starlin says. “So we're working on it. And I have a very tight plot in my head for the third one and nebulous ideas for the fourth and fifth one. For what I have planned in the next two, we need two more after that.”
Beyond the comics, Starlin and Jameson are also looking into live-action possibilities for Dreadstar. Given their current ambitions, a single film is too small to cover this story.
“I've given up on the movie idea,” Starlin says. “It's just too big of a story to fit.”
“I keep saying it's a TV series,” Jameson interjects. “Like HBO Max and Netflix have all these great streaming shows I could see it doing that.”
For now, nothing is official, though Starlin says he’s “talking to folks” about adapting Dreadstar Returns in one form or another. But for now, he’s got nothing official to report.
“These things go slowly,” he says. “And if they happen, they happen. And if they don't, they don't. So until the check is signed, the contracts are signed, and they're into production, there's nothing to say. Up until then. It's all speculation and wishful thinking.”
Hopefully, it works out though, if only because I really want to see Plunddo Tram’s head impaled on a stick in live-action.
Dreadstar Returns is available now to purchase from Ominous Press.