I'm just catching up with reviewing the comics released last week. And some big issues came out yesterday. So I better finish up last week's books with R.E.B.E.L.S. #24.
This book has been on a slow decline in my mind. I loved the earliest issues that were a mix of the DC galaxy and superb characterization of Vril Dox. I also like the 'Legion in the present' feel we got from the make-up of the team ... a Wildfire/Dawnstar amalgam, a Validus like creature, a Bouncing Boy equivalent, a Blok type.
The initial story, the R.E.B.E.L.S. facing Starro was a great read. Tucked in distant corner of the DCU, it showed that all big stories don't involve Earth. I thought the Starro story went just about as long as it should, the threat ending before the comic became stuck on that one note.
Since that story, the book has gone off on a bit of a tangent, leaving the new characters behind and trying to become more relevant, more involved with the larger DCU. So now we have Green Lanterns, Lobo, Adam Strange, and Captain Comet instead of Wildstar, Bounder, Ciji, and Amon Hakk. That change is obvious when you look at this month's character driven cover. Outside of Vril, none of those original R.E.B.E.L.S. are there. Frankly it was the original team that I found so compelling. Only the dominating character of Vril Dox could keep a team made of a Dominator, a Khund, and a Durlan work together. We haven't seen those REBELS in a meaningful scene in a long time.
Frankly, I don't know if I would have picked up this title with the team seen on this cover. As a result, my passion for this title has waned a lot. It isn't an ultimatum, but I am hoping writer Tony Bedard and artist Claude St. Aubin find that early magic again or I might leave the book after this next arc.
This issue concentrated mostly on the relationships of the team members, looking at their romances in this rare time of tranquility. With Starro defeated, Rann and Tamaran sharing a planet, and the rookie Green Lanterns gone, even Dox has time to take a deep breath and enjoy a night out.
The idea of a Vril/Komand'r romance is an interesting idea. Both have totalitarian ideas, think they should lead, and are willing to do just about anything to make sure their will is done. I can understand why they might be attracted to each other. I also think it would be a highly combustible relationship.
Here they act coy,talking about their dinner date being a diplomatic meeting when clearly it is a bit more.
Would Dox really try to have a romantic relationship with the recent galactic upheavals? It feels a smidge out of character ... but even he needs some down time. And right now it feels like a victory party for him. So much has gone his way recently.
As I said before, in this calm before the resurgent Starro storm, we get to see how all the new REBELS are dealing with their love lives.
One scene that didn't feel right was this scene between Adam Strange and his wife Alanna. It reads nice with the two of them restating their love for each other, a love that spanned galaxies. Alanna is glad Adam is back home with her and not in space with Starfire.
But there was just some discordance between Alanna's dress and the fact that she is parading around in that lingerie in front of her child. Trust me, I am no prude. This scene and her attire would have been fine (if a bit over the top) if daughter Aleea wasn't there. There should be some passion between the husband and wife after such a long time apart. And it would have worked fine if Alanna was in a more subdued robe in front of her child. But those two things ... mom's see through negligee and her school age child ... just shouldn't be in the same panel in my opinion.
Starfire has started a more physical relationship with Captain Comet in the last few issues.
While that might be fine with Kory, the Captain is having a harder time with it. He wants something more. And in his despair, he tries to drown his sorrows.
Leave it to Lobo to sum things up succinctly. Starfire is 'playin'' Comet; there aren't any dates, only booty calls. (I can't believe I am reading a comic where the term 'booty call' is actually used.) While that sort of thing might be fine with Lobo, it clearly isn't working for the Captain. He storms off rather than being ridiculed by Lobo.
In a clear mental lapse, Dox divulges to Komand'r that the implant on his head is what allows him to control Tribulus. Maybe love has lowered his defenses? It really isn't like the always calculating, always keeping the upper hand Vril Dox to just offer up information like that.
I don't trust Blackfire as far as I can throw her. How long before she removes the control pod and takes control of Tribulus herself?
And let's not forget Lobo's love life. A long time ago, some time when she was first introduced, I commented how Astrild Stormdaughter looked like a Czarian. She gets close enough to Lobo for him to see her and get her scent, both of which are suspiciously Czarian.
He chases her down the streets of Ranagar finally catching up to her. And in that back alley, she kisses him deeply.
Of course, Astrild is not Czarian. She was sprayed with Psion-created Czarian pheromones (I love comics!) to lure Lobo into her arms. What Stormdaughter can do is absorb life energy and give it to others. And Lobo has a lot of life energy. She drains him to the point that he collapses.
She then turns around and shares her new energies with the main Starro symbiote allowing it to not only shed face huggers but to feed the little starfish, speeding up their growth. Suddenly Starro has the ability to form an army.
I am interested to see if or when Stormdaughter will accept another Starro starfish. She clearly is loyal.
Of all the villains in the book, of all the Starro related characters, Stormdaughter is the most complex. There is a lot of stories that could probably be written about her and her damaged psyche.
With things progressing nicely, Starro decides that the time is right to attempt his revenge on Dox.
The first step is for Smite to smash Dox's ship and grab hold of Tribulus. A Starro-controlled Tribulus is a scary thought. What would have ultimate control of the monster - Dox's implant or the starfish?
With Starfire flying nearby, it looks like the battlefield is set.
The presence of Starro and the intriguing Stormdaughter echoed enough of the early issues of this title to keep me engaged with the story. And the Vril/Komand'r scenes crackled as you wonder how much of their attraction is a ruse to obtain a favorable power position. For all I know both Vril and Blackfire are faking their romantic interests, both scheming behind the polished smiling exteriors. That is the beauty and the appeal of Brainiac here ... you feel like you are always a step behind him.
But the rest of the issue read a bit like fluff. While adding some depth to the Strange and Comet characters, I don't know if they added enough to warrant their page space especially when other characters have been completely ignored.
I'll ride out this Starro story ... but after that, I guess we'll see.
But I still keep thinking that a character driven cover for R.E.B.E.L.S. should look more like this than the one above.