With the first story arc over and the Starro wave as well as our heroes trapped in a galaxy-wide force field bubble, R.E.B.E.L.S. #7 tried to establish the new political landscape in the comic, both within the containment field as well in the DCU as a whole.
It also tidied up one potential weakness in Dox's containment strategy as well.
The issue also marked the return of the title's 'regular artist' Andy Clarke. It was good to see his finely detailed art back on the title. And, as usual, Tony Bedard does a great job of juggling all the players on the periphery while making sure the action focuses closely on Dox and his team.
The comic opens up with a great sequence where the surviving Dominator general tries to smash through the force field wall with a lunavore - a sort of free roaming space leviathan. Suffice it to say that the wall holds and the lunavore bursts into pieces.
But the dominator realizes the obvious. Why smash through the wall if you can teleport to the other side. And since the Gil'Dishpan have the innate ability to warp, the Dominator heads there. Given the obvious nature of this solution, he surely won't be alone.
The situation within the force field remains dire though. The Starro wave most likely will take over the entire penned in area and then figure out a way to break through.
Given the impending war against Starro, Dox gets onto the airwaves and starts asking for help. Again, Bedard does a good job of giving the reader a lot of information in one panel. We have Kajar Ro's self-serving nature as he delays joining Dox's cause, weighing his options.
I also like that Bedard shows that this story line does not exist in a vacuum but is a part of the current DCU and it's other cosmic characters. We see Dox try to contact both Oa and Rann to try to drum up support only to get shunned by both.
Bedard needed to do this to place the story in the current continuity. Surely the GL Corps would want to know about the Starro wave and would intercede if not otherwise busy with Blackest Night. Surely the people of Thanagar and Rann would want to join the fray as well if capable.
Dox comes to the same conclusion that the Dominator came to. If help is going to come it will probably need to come from outside the containment field and the only way to do that without dropping the field is with teleportation. He flies the team to the Gil'Dishpan homeworld.
Knowing how the Gil'Dishpan are xenophobes, Dox tries to manipulate them into joining his war by telling them that the Starro wave will soon invade the sacred 'mother ocean' and use their innate abilities to run roughshod through the universe.
The Gil'Dishpan leader though was already aware of what was going on because the Dominator General had beaten Dox to the punch.
Just another quick comment about the art. I think Clarke is one of the better artists when it comes to showing shapeshifters changing forms. That first panel showing the Ciji 'little girl' form melting into a large fanged monster is captivating - grotesque and eerie at the same time. It looks like something from John Carpenter's The Thing. Hopefully Clarke will be able to keep up on the art chores here.
Again, that isolationist nature of the teleporting race comes through. They think they can bargain with Starro - trading Dox and his team for a nonaggression pact. It is clear the Gil'Dishpan have little understanding of Starro's methods.
Even the Dominator warns them of Starro's insatiable thirst for domination. You don't negotiate with Starro ... you fight or be consumed into his armies.
Throughout this series, I have talked about how much I love reading the Machiavellian Dox, the master manipulator.
When his initial attempts to pursuade the Gil'Dishpan fail, he switched tactics. If scaring them into joining out of fear of invasion then maybe flattery and the promise of power will work instead. Dox reminds them that with their inherent warping powers, the Gil'Dishpan would act as the gatekeeper into the sector and therefore be the most important and powerful race.
Before they can respond definitively, Starro forces the issue. A huge drone producing starfish crashes through the ice followed by drone ships and infantry.
The fight doesn't last long. Much like with the Dominators, the Gil'Dishpan army can't hold back the invasion. The head Gil'Dishpan is soon masked by a drone and suddenly sees the 'wisdom' of the Starro way. Suddenly Starro has access to an army of teleporters making Dox's force field wall a mere nuisance.
Something else I like about this series is the unveiling of the Starro lieutenants, those who have some free will while serving the greater cause. This man-shark look pretty cool. Moreover, I love how where the drone is on someone represents their 'rank' in Starro's forces. If you have a face hugger, you are a drone, infantry, cannon fodder. If you have a bigger fish on the back, you carry more clout in the Starro wave.
There isn't much more for the R.E.B.E.L.S. to do except run.
But maybe they have a new ally. As the R.E.B.E.L.S. ship flies off, they notice more drag than they should. The Dominator has linked to them with a tractor beam. With Dox providing propulsion, the Dominator dumps his nuclear-powered engine into the methane oceans of the Gil'Dishpan ocean.
When the engine explodes, it ignites the methane in the waters effectively setting the world on fire. Scratch one race of teleporters. I love this shot from space as we see the world being engulfed in flames, Kirby dots crackling in waves. Of course, you would think that if it was that easy to destroy the Gil'Dishpan world that someone would have done it already. Still, it is an 'OMG' moment, the sort of thing that keeps me reading comics.
So I guess we can add a Dominator to Dox's band now. What a motley crew! As a legion fan, I can't get enough!
I looked at this issue as more of an epilogue to the initial arc. The warping powers of the Gil'Dishpan needed to be taken care of immediately or Dox's plan is worthless. With the warp-weavers off the grid, the R.E.B.E.L.S. can move forward in bigger plans to thwart Starro.
R.E.B.E.L.S. is the only non-Super-title I review at length hoping if I sing its praises loud enough someone will pick up an issue. This is a really good comic that I fear is not long for this world. And that's a shame.
Overall grade: B+