Monday, March 16, 2009

Review: R.E.B.E.L.S. #2

R.E.B.E.L.S. #2, written by Tony Bedard and drawn by Andy Clarke, came out last week and guest starred Supergirl.

This comic is sort of like reading The Legion of Super-Heroes through a glass darkly. This isn't the bright colored utopian future society with a squad of young optimistic heroes striving to do the right thing. This is the grimy 21st century with heroes who have their own agenda. Whether or not that agenda is best for society is debatable.

Last issue ended with Supergirl and Brainiac 2 on the run from bounty hunters, including a telepath, a Khundian warrior, a cyborg, and a Validus-like creature. When Brainiac 2 downloads a program of Brainiac 5 into his mind, he slumps into unconsciousness.

The bounty hunters track them down leaving Kara no choice but to go back on the run.

The scope of the first story arc becomes clear when Brainiac 5 explains why he sent this program back in time with Supergirl. It turns out that history books have no records of Brainiac 2 after this point in time. Since Brainiac 5 needs Vril to survive to ensure the bloodline continues on, Brainiac decides to help out.

Brainiac 5 downloads all the specifics about the future Legion team and their villains so Vril can use it as a template to build a team. After all, the future Legion is a great model for diversity of powers and strength as well as being a bastion of good.

After the download, Brainiac 2 comes to and joins the fray. While Supergirl runs interference with Tribulus, Vril is able to make the Khundian warrior accidentally shoot and kill the cyborg Getorix.

It turns out that Getorix had a control module implanted in him which gave him some rudimentary control over Tribulus. With Getorix dead, Tribulus is free of his control. Tribulus goes berserk, lashing out at whoever is closest, in this case his fellow bounty hunters.

Brainiac removes the control piece from Getorix and asks Supergirl to do some quick surgery. She implants the device into Vril's brain giving him control of Tribulus.

His first command is to have Tribulus fry Kara with mental lightning. Brainiac tells her that her part in the story is over and flies off with Tribulus in the bounty hunter's ship.

It is clear that Brainiac 2 is a bit more cut-throat than his descendant.

Brainiac 5 calls him on that decision. After all, the LSH template says that the best team has a Kryptonian anchor. Indeed, Brainiac 5 thought that Supergirl was going the be the first recruit for the R.E.B.E.L.S. team.

But that is not what Brainiac 2 wants. Kara would ask too many questions, wouldn't blindly follow Vril's orders, and would probably disagree with his politics. After reviewing the files on Validus, Brainiac 2 would rather have the 'unquestioning and unmerciful' Tribulus be his first recruit.

And with that, Brainiac 2 begins to form his own twisted version of the Legion.

His next attempted recruit is the Omega Man Elu. Brainiac realizes that someone has taken over L.E.G.I.O.N.'s living computer Silica and that Elu could provide enough energy to shut her down for a hard reboot.

The Omega Men have a history with Vril and while they aren't enemies, they are certainly not friends. Elu decides to reject Brainiac's off the join the R.E.B.E.L.S. squad. Irritated by the decision, Vril pretends to be Getorix and calls in the L.E.G.I.O.N. troops to arrest the Omegans.

It is a silly moment that seems a little out of place in the middle of this story. My guess is this Omega Men squad are going to constantly interact with the R.E.B.E.L.S. and Bedard wants to build a little history here. I doubt the 2 teams will merge. My guess is they will be begrudging allies at times.

Vril has decided that some of the LSH template is worth exploring.
He travels to Star Haven to see if there is a 21st century equivalent of Dawnstar. The ability to be a great tracker and travel freely in place has not manifested in all the people yet. But one woman in the tribe called Wildstar does seem to have the sight. She talks about 'feeling' the vessels traveling in space nearby.

She is the laughing stock of Star Haven. The people think her visions are the sign of insanity. Her wings are small and do not allow her to fly. She is ostracized.

Sounds like the perfect person for Vril to domineer. He asks if he may run some tests on her to see if she has latent abilities. Star Haven's leader Night Sky allows Wildstar to leave with Brainiac in hopes she can be 'cured' of her insanity.
Brainiac has no intention on curing her. He wants her tracking ability and offers her her heart's desire ... to be able to fly ... if she will serve him.

This is classic Brainiac 2. He looks at people as tools to accomplish his goals and knows just how to manipulate them.

He reads Wildstar perfectly. She agrees to do whatever he wants if he provides her with new wings. She looks at a suit which seems meant for her.

Despite agreeing, Brainiac seems to be aiming a gun at her back in the last panel.

Now why would he kill her? It is clear that this device is going to be used to remove Wildstar's vestigial wings from her back so she can wear the suit.

We have seen the suit bristling with 'Kirby dots' in some of the promo pics for the title. My guess is the suit has some energy powers. Thus Wildstar is an amalgam of Wildfire and Dawnstar. For an old timer like me ... a guy whose favorite Legionnaire is Wildfire ... I like that idea. Original and retro at the same time.

So it seems that this arc is going to lay the groundwork for the political climate of the cosmos while also showing Dox build his team. Not a bad little premise.

I thought this issue was interesting enough with its weaving of Legion lore into current times to make me pick up the next one. I don't know if I am on board for the long run. But Bedard is clearly comfortable with Brainiac 2's voice. He comes across loud and clear as a controlling, arrogant fascist ... hopefully with good intentions.

The art is very interesting and is different than most of what I see out there right now. At times it looks absolutely amazing. At times it looks just a little off. Still, this is not the cookie cutter art that dominates the market. Clarke has his own style which works for the most part.

Overall grade: B-


Anonymous said...

Kara got bounced out of the storyline too quickly for me...also think she deserves a rematch with MiniValidus.


John Feer

TalOs said...

Same here at that, heh! :D

Man this second issue just rocked! 8D

So Vril went AGAINST Brainy 5's wishes to include Supergirl as the first recruit for his current eras Legion eh? I think his just insured that that Waid/Kitson Pre-IC DCU continuity Legion won't come to be. At least not as WE'VE know them.

And what about that last page cliff hanger? YIKES! Man I pity poor unsuspecting Dawnstar's possible ancestor! Man Vril is still ever the tool!

I think Wildstar will possibly end up being the one to OFF Brainy 2 after what his intending to do behind her back without her given consent.

Anj, will you still be reviewing this title even minus Supergirl our now? :/

TalOs said...

ARGH! Sorry about the spelling mistakes.

Heath Edwards said...

heh, i really quite enjoyed this issue. it is a pity that kara has been knocked out, so far, but maybe she'll be back...
clarke's art isn't my usual taste, but i think its been a fine fit so far to the series, and i enjoy his tigorr, even if his take on the brainiacs comes across (imho) a bit bland...

Anj said...

Kara got bounced out of the storyline too quickly for me...also think she deserves a rematch with MiniValidus.

I think it would be tough to have her be in her title and be in an interstellar fight team.

Plus, it makes the next time Kara meets Vril veerrrryyyy interesting.

Anj said...

Anj, will you still be reviewing this title even minus Supergirl our now? :/

Hmmmmm ... I don't know. I have stuck to comics Kara or Super related in the past. Maybe?

I don't even know if it will remain on my pull list.

Gene said...

I hope Supergirl comes back to express her displeasure of being taken for granted.

vinniewarlock said...

Ohhh... I just love when Vril Dox is being so... Doxian...

Now, I know that Strata will be re-joining the Green Bastard Genius, but I really want to see Stealth back too.... It would make things very interesting to have the almost-Mrs Dox tagging along with him, and annoying the hell out of him all the time.

Anj said...

Ohhh... I just love when Vril Dox is being so... Doxian...

Now, I know that Strata will be re-joining the Green Bastard Genius, but I really want to see Stealth back too....

Thanks for the post.

I do wonder just how much of L.E.G.I.O.N. will end up appearing here.

I am not a Lobo fan, but I would love to see him guest here given his history with Dox. Lobo vs. Tribulus would be nice to see.

vinniewarlock said...

If Lobo comes back, they will have to give a veeeeery good reason for it, because Lobo was so relieved that Dox had freed him from his honor debt that he kissed him!!! (I have the comic book to prove it)

We will see what will happen in the future...