Real Name: Za
Identity/Class: Alternate reality (Reality-8116) extraterrestrial (Tyjorian) energy/spirit being;
former Tyjorian mutate
Occupation: Warrior, guardian/activator of the Infinity
Group Membership: Aknaton's unnamed alliance (Vanth (later known as Dreadstar), Juliet (last name unrevealed), Whis'par)
Affiliations: Aknaton; unidentified lover (deceased)
Enemies: Most other Tyjorian, Zygotean landing party 017 (Captain Guolabou, unidentified warrior), Zygoteans
Known Relatives: Unidentified mother
Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
formerly Vanth's Light Cutter ship;
briefly the World of the Woods;
formerly the planet Tyjor, Alpha Centauri star system, Milky Way galaxy, Reality-8116
First Appearance: Epic Illustrated#1 (Spring, 1980)
Powers/Abilities: What abilities Za possessed in his later energy incarnation remains unrevealed.
In mortal form, Za was large and strong (ten times stronger than the average Tyjorian, who were large and brutish, perhaps indicating he could lift 2 or more tons).
While all other Tyjorians were cannibalistic beasts, Za had a soul and spirit. Though he wished only peace, he was willing and able to fight for Aknaton, whom he viewed as a god-like being.
Height: Unrevealed (perhaps 8-9')
Weight: Unrevealed (perhaps 800-1000 lbs.)
Eyes: Unrevealed (see comments)
Hair: Purple fur
(Epic Illustrated#1/7 (fb) - BTS) - As part of a plot to end the genocidal threat of the the Zygoteans, Aknaton of Orsiros traveled to Tyjor, a harsh world of the Alpha Centauri system populated by cannibalistic brutes and lacking any other plant or animal to consume, and he introduced the potential to care.(Epic Illustrated#1/14 (fb)) - As a newborn, Za (see comments) enjoyed the milk of his mother, who had not yet gotten the idea into her head to eat him.
(Epic Illustrated#1/14 (fb)) - The young Za's good and warm life came to an end when she tried breaking him off of breastfeeding and introduced him to meat. Revolted by its taste and smell, Za ate the meat because it was expected of him, but a few minutes later, he vomited up the Tyjorean flesh, which he proved unable to tolerate.
(Epic Illustrated#1/14 (fb)) - With the infant habit of sticking anything within reach into his mouth (and the "wisdom of youth"), Za escaped starvation by discovering that the bluish crystals found around the world was for him life.
(Epic Illustrated#1/14 (fb) - BTS) - Unknown to Za at the time, these blue crystals granted him enhanced strength.
(Epic Illustrated#1/14 (fb) - BTS) - Soon afterward, Za's mother's maternal instinct overrode her baser hunger, and she abandoned her son to adulthood, avoiding the carnivorous natives that constantly stalked their own.
(Epic Illustrated#1/14 (fb)) - Living alone, Za survived to grow into a fine specimen of Tyjorian manhood, beating the odds perhaps with the grace of some Tyjorian god.
(Epic Illustrated#1/14 (fb)) - Growing alone and lonely, Za realized that he was different.
(Epic Illustrated#1/14 (fb)) - One day a pair of Tyjorians ambushed Za, biting and tearing him, and he reacted without thinking, tearing his attackers to pieces with his ten-times normal strength; Za then realized his strength and the source of it.
(Epic Illustrated#1/14 (fb)) - Za only knew and cared about his loneliness and that he was waiting for something or someone from somewhere. Feeling that what waited ahead must be the better than the lost and empty land that lay behind, Za wandered off aimlessly.
(Epic Illustrated#1/14 (fb)) - Not long after, Za came upon a female Tyjorian; he knew instantly that the feelings he had were more than the "red lust," mating desire of his people. He began by scavenging food for her; though she feared him, she accepted the food.
Her feelings changed when he drove off others who wanted to feed on her. The short time that followed was sheer bliss for Za, and he -- in his own bestial way -- prayed that it would never end.
(Epic Illustrated#1/14 (fb)) - One day while foraging for his mate, Za suddenly sensed as she was being attacked, and he rushed back to her, only to find her dead, her innards consumed by a predatory pack of Tyjorians.
(Epic Illustrated#1/14 (fb)) - Za's loneliness returned worse than ever, along with an overcoming, soul-deep loss.
(Epic Illustrated#1/14 (fb)) - Za climbed high into the sky, planning to end the torture in one mad plunge.
(Epic Illustrated#1/14) - Instead he gained understanding of many of concepts, including that of a name, and that his name was Za.
He also found understanding and a name for his pain: he was greeted by Aknaton, who introduced himself and admitted to and apologized for being responsible for Za's torment, as he had no choice.
Referring to his visitor as "man-god," Za asked how he understood him and/or how he understood so much, and Aknaton shared that he had the power to bestow knowledge and the ability to voice it. Aknaton further shared that the stars had need of a monster with a soul and a mind, and that this was why Za existed in this fashion. Telling Za of the darkness spreading across the "gems of the night" that could not be stopped but could only be destroyed, Aknaton asked him to help him in this labor. Having nothing to go back to, Za agreed, and they departed aboard a giant butterfly of Aknaton's creation, heading toward Earth.
(Epic Illustrated#1/15) - On Earth, already under siege by the Zygoteans, Za accompanied Aknaton to collect Juliet, saving her from Zygotean mercenaries. Za was concerned when Aknaton was injured by a ray-gun blast, but Aknaton transported Za and Julet back to his ship. Za stood in silence as Aknaton introduced himself and Za to Juliet, told her what the Zygoteans would do to her people, and then destroyed Earth to spare humanity from that fate.
(Epic Illustrated#2/6 (fb) - BTS) - Aknaton transported himself, Juliet, and Za to the World of the Woods to recruit the next member for his plans.
Illustrated#2/6) - As
Za and Juliet sat nearby, Aknaton formally greeted Whis'par and
explained their mission to stop the marauding Zygoteans. Juliet, Za,
and Whis'par were each
an aspect of the embryo of what is to be: Juliet came from a strong,
ambitious breed with the gift of youthful innocence still intact; Za
brought with him proof that something beautiful and loving could grow
from the nightmare of reality; and Whis'par added
generations of environmental harmony, and
the wisdom that came with it; and the child of this union would be
with experience as well as a clean spirit and a gentle soul, which
would make it both a noble and unstoppable foe to the Zygotean madness,
especially when coupled with his magics.
Whis'par reluctantly agreed to join the effort, after which Aknaton transported his trio away.
(Epic Illustrated#2/6 (fb) - BTS) - Aknaton transported his group to Lartorez, a "mineral poor planet the Zygoteans had already passed" (see comments) and then departed to recruit the final member of their group.
(Epic Illustrated#5/9 (fb) - BTS) - Aknaton and Vanth arrived on Lartorez and met with Juliet, Whis'par, and Za.
(Epic Illustrated#5/9) - With all of his agents were now gathered, Aknaton departed for another plane to decipher the whereabouts of the Infinity Horn from Soule's amulet; though he knew not how long he would be away, he instructed them to await his return.
Juliet, Whis'par, and Za evaluated Vanth, who realized they'd want to test his mettle and considered that he would have to go easy on them to avoid killing them. Juliet noted how she had expected many protectors, rather than just one, and Whis'par noted that he was only half the size of Za. Approaching Vanth and considering that the master wouldn't trust their safety to one whose abilities matched his stature, Za pulled down Vanth's hood to see if he had hidden features/powers. Having already decided that he didn't want to fight the women, Vanth was happy that Za had provoked the challenge. Vanth swiftly turned and punched out the giant Za, then told the others he would be over the ridge, keeping an eye on the horizon.
While Whis'par went to talk to Vanth, Juliet asked Za if he was OK. Za weakly confirmed that he was alright and noted "little man sure hit hard." He continued by noting "The master made a good choice with that one...Za's head will be ringing head for hours," and Juliet asked Za why he called Aknaton "master." After Za explained how Aknaton saved him from the moment of darkness of choosing death, Juliet asked what Aknaton rescued him for; uncertain, Za answered, "...maybe for a better death."
(Epic Illustrated#6/6) - Upon Aknaton's return from communing with Ra and learning the location of the Infinity Horn, Vanth confronted Aknaton about his plans to blow up the galaxy. To convince his allies of the wisdom of this plan, Aknaton prepared to show them the true face of Zygoteism.
(Epic Illustrated#7/6) - Za listened as Aknaton related the history of the Zygoteans, explaining that galactic destruction was the only way to stop them and the kindest thing for the galaxy; meanwhile, Zygotean mercenaries located and targeted them.
(Epic Illustrated#7/7) - After Aknaton detected the landing and approach of Zygotean cruisers, the group followed Vanth's instruction to get to the Light Cutter.
Za watched as Vanth took out the cruisers and then the much larger Zygotean dreadnought in orbit, after which Aknaton punched in the coordinates and they departed to their last stop, the planet Dreamsend.
(Epic Illustrated#8/6 (fb) - BTS) - As they approached Dreamsend, Vanth used the Light Cutter to take out two Zygotean warships.
Illustrated#8/6) - Arriving on Dreamsend, Juliet and the others fought
their way past the Zygotean ground troops. Learning
how the Kaloombrians who had built the temple they were seeking had
fled to escape the Zygoteans, Za noted that the aliens had been smart
and that he wouldn't mind joining them at this time.
As Za noted more
Zygotean ships approaching, Aknaton
instructed them to head for the temple, as it would shield them from
the Zygoteans' fire. Via the temple, Aknaton led them down down
"stairs" that were actually a
multi-dimensional corridor to his Hall of Death and Mercy, at the
of the galaxy.
As Vanth announced the Zygotean
troops following them,
Aknaton opened the mystic portal to his hall and revealed to them the
Horn. Underwhelmed by the Horn's appearance, Za noted that it didn't
look like much, but Aknaton told him it did the job it was designed
for, and didn't need to look
Aknaton subsequently clarified that Juliet, Whis'par, and Za would
be the foundation blocks of tomorrow, their qualities -- noting specifically Za's contribution, as a soul
capable of creating love, even from the waste of bestial inhumanity and
cannibalism -- creating a new
race of beings who would, hopefully, succeed where "humanity" had
Za ensured his lord that they would not fail him, and Aknaton then bade his "children" goodbye before departing to join Vanth in holding
off the Zygoteans long enough for them to trumpet in the future.
Illustrated#9) - As Aknaton and Vanth took heavy fire from the
Zygoteans, the necessary forces in the cosmos came into
alignment. After Whis'par sensed this and instructed the others, the trio stepped into position.
Juliet wondered if this was going to hurt, and Za noted, "probably...change usually does." Juliet sarcastically thanked Za for the encouragement.
Juliet, Whis'par, and Za smiled, having come too far to do anything else. With fear at last gone, only belief remained: Belief in the potential of tomorrow, belief in the power and beauty of life, belief in the cleansing power of death.
And then they blew the Infinity Horn.
(Epic Illustrated#9 (fb) - BTS) - Aknaton indirectly tapped into the power of the Infinite and created a mystical sphere -- mostly from condensed light particles -- to protect himself and Vanth from the forces being unleashed, as well as placing them into a deep state of suspended animation.
(Epic Illustrated#9 - BTS) - The
Horn accessed and unleashed the energies from the 15th dimension of
mystical existence, the realm of a being of omnipotent force and many
names. The players disappeared into an explosive vortex of light, sound, and energy.
And the Milky Way was destroyed.
Comments: Created by Jim Starlin.
Dreadstar was a licensed
character/title created by Jim Starlin starting way back with the
Metamorphosis Odyssey in Epic Illustrated#1 in the Spring of 1980. The
Metamorphosis Odyssey started around the modern era and affected Earth,
but then swiftly destroyed the entire Milky Way galaxy and then moved
on like a million years in the future. Dreadstar eventually got his own
series under the Epic imprint, but Starlin later took the whole shebang
over to First Comics. And in 1994, it was published under the imprint
of Bravura, a creator-owned division of Malibu comics. He appeared
sometime later in issues #5-7 of the Breed III series. And, there's
talk of a Dreadstar television show.
Still that earlier Marvel connection allows me to place this reality in the fringes of the Marvel Megaverse.
Peter David took over the writing around issue#31 or so, but Starlin remained the owner. At any rate, from start to finish, it is the best series I've ever read, period! I'd love to see it continued, by Starlin, David, or both!
The story in Epic Illustrated#1 was in black and
white. Although the other issues were in color, Za's eyes were never
clearly shown, so it's impossible to say what color they were.
There's a great image of the gathered group of Juliet, Vanth, Whis'par, and Vanth in the Lartorez profile
Za was completely naked, just
covered in thick fur. However, there were definitely some images that
showed his...man-thing. As there were enough images showing his full
body without showing his penis, I chose to show the more modest ones.
Profile by Snood.
No KNOWN connections to:
images: (without ads)
Epic Illustrated#1/14, pg. 1 (Za on peak);
pg. 3, panel 2 (toddler Za handed meat);
panel 6 (Za, full);
pg. 4, panel 1-2 (Za fighting off attackers);
pg. 5, panel 2 (Za face);
panel 3 (girlfriend sitting);
panel 5 (Za's arm around girlfriend);
#1/15, pg. 6, panel 1 (holding Juliet)
#5/9, pg. 3, panel 6 (punched out by Vanth);
#8/6, pg. 2, panel 7 (punching Zygotean mercenaries);
#9: Metamorphosis Odyssey, Chapter XIII: Doomsday, pg. 3, panel 6 (preparing to blow the Infinity Horn)
pg. 8, panel 1-3 (Juliet, Whis'par, & Za escaping as new life forms);
Epic Illustrated#1: Metamorphosis Odyssey chapters I: Aknaton, II: Za!, and III: Juliet (Spring, 1980) - Jim Starlin (writer, artist), Stan Lee (editor)
Epic Illustrated#2: Metamorphosis Odyssey chapter IV: Whis'par (Summer, 1980) - Jim Starlin (writer, artist), Stan Lee (editor/publisher), Archie Goodwin (editorial director), James Shooter (consulting editor)
Epic Illustrated#5: Metamorphosis Odyssey chapter VIII: Sunrise on Lartorez (April, 1981) - Jim Starlin (writer, artist), Stan Lee (editor/publisher), Archie Goodwin (editorial director), James Shooter (consulting editor)
Epic Illustrated#6: Metamorphosis Odyssey chapter IX: Absolution (June, 1981) - Jim Starlin (writer, artist), Stan Lee (editor/publisher), Archie Goodwin (editorial director), James Shooter (consulting editor)
Epic Illustrated#7: Metamorphosis Odyssey chapters X: Requiem & XI: Nightfire (August, 1981) - Jim Starlin (writer, artist), Stan Lee (editor/publisher), Archie Goodwin (editorial director), James Shooter (consulting editor)
Epic Illustrated#8: Metamorphosis Odyssey chapters XII: Dreamsend (October, 1981) - Jim Starlin (writer, artist), Stan Lee (editor/publisher), Archie Goodwin (editorial director), James Shooter (consulting editor)
Epic Illustrated#9: Metamorphosis Odyssey, Chapter XIII: Doomsday & XIV: Aftermath (December, 1981) - Jim Starlin (writer, artist), Stan Lee (editor/publisher), Archie Goodwin (editorial director), James Shooter (consulting editor)
First posted: 05/30/2019
Last updated: 11/02/2020
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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