Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review: R.E.B.E.L.S. #26

It's hard to believe that we are nearing the end of R.E.B.E.L.S. Never a mega-selling book, it simply seemed impervious to cancellation in the same vein as Jonah Hex and Hellblazer. Sales have always been on the low end. But couldn't there be room for a DC Cosmic book? Maybe the answer is yes ... just a different one after Flashpoint.

Still I have enjoyed R.E.B.E.L.S. way more that I thought I would. Initially I was only going to be on board for the first 2 issues. They guest-starred Supergirl. But something about the book grabbed me. Mostly it was the characterization of Vril Dox. But the slick art work of Andy Clarke and the semi-Legion feel of the book kept me coming back for more.

I have said before that the book seems to have lost it's way a bit over the last year, throwing new bits and pieces into the mix ... like Green Lanterns and Lobo and Starfire. As a result, it has felt a bit like R.E.B.E.L.S. lite, with nary a sighting of the original rag-tag team.

R.E.B.E.L.S. # 26, out this last week, comes close to the bright beginning of the title. Maybe it is because Starro is back and he played such a key role in the first year of the book. But this felt a little like the old R.E.B.E.L.S. (if there can be such a thing after just 2 years). Tony Bedard does a nice job dealing with the personalities of the characters here, letting there nuance show. And Claude St. Aubin and Daniel HDR split art chores but have such similar styles, or are inked similarly by Scott Hanna, that it is seamless.

Last issue ended with Lobo killing Astrild Stormdaughter by impaling her in the temple with his hook.

I have said it before, Stormdaughter was a great new character, one I hoped (and still hope) makes it through this title alive. The tragedy of her origins, the sense of emptiness in her, is such great soil for more stories. But part of me has hoped all along that there was going to be redemption with her character. She lost everything fighting Starro, then turned to him when she lost her resolve. I keep thinking that somehow her powers ... as a life/death goddess ... will lead to a rebirth, cleansed of her sins, ready to make amends, and being crucial in the ultimate defeat of Starro.

Even if R.E.B.E.L.S. is ending, the team will be out there for further DCU adventures. I hope she joins the team when all is said and done.

But without raising a sweat, Lobo defeated one of Starro's generals. Even the Conqueror knows that an angry Lobo is pretty much unstoppable. With no answers of their own, Starro turns to Dox and momentarily frees him from his Starro drone. When asked how to stop Lobo, Dox replies 'only Lobo can stop Lobo'.

Ummm ... so I don't know why he needed to remove the starfish from Dox. Doesn't he control Dox? Couldn't the face-hugged Vril answer the same questions? Or does the being a Starro drone make you an empty vessel. Seems to me we have seen plenty of people under Starro's control talking and acting with their intellect intact.

In the meantime, Rann is trying to hold the fort, not realizing that they are being taken over from the inside.

In what I thought was a nice bit, Komand'r offers her help to the Rannian forces to rescue Dox and protect the planet. In some ways it shows tremendous growth on Blackfire's part that she is willing to work with Sardath here rather than hoping the Rannians are killed so the Tamaranians can try to run the whole planet.

But as I said, Rann is far from safe.

I love this disturbing panel of Adam Strange's daughter cutely skipping into the home to present Alanna with her own drone-fish.

Panels like this are what keep me coming back to comics. That's just a great image.

Dox' words about Lobo lead to a quick recap of Lobo's origins.

Smite thinks the best way to stop Lobo is to implant a hatred for the genocidal Czarian into the Lobo-clones and release them to fight him. It is a plan that makes sense. But Starro wants no part of it. He still wants to control the Lobo clones and releasing them would be a lost opportunity.

I can see both sides of the argument. Couldn't they split it down the middle? Couldn't they release half the clones?

In the worst bit in the book, after Starro rejects Smite's idea, he tells his General to 'grow a pair' and go fight Lobo? 'Grow a pair'? Doesn't that sound just a bit vulgar coming from Starro who has been more regal in his words in the past?

Smite doesn't take kindly to the words either. He lashes out at Starro, knocking him off his feet. It was a simple way of showing me just where Starro stands in power. We learned in the first story that this Starro gains strength from the numbers he controls. Clearly he doesn't control many yet.

Despite that, Smite actually does go to engage Lobo. His motivations are actually noble. He wants to avenge the death of Stormdaughter, someone he held as a friend. How interesting! I like complex characters. Smite's origins also have a tinge of sadness to them. Is this his redemption?

Either way, I don't know how the Lobo clones will be dealt with. Maybe killed in their pods by the main man himself? Or drained of power by the reborn Stormdaughter?

While Smite and Lobo fight on the surface, Starro has the Psions move the Lobo clones to a safe location and teleports off to Rann with Dox in tow. Seems a bit premature for Starro to head there if his power is as low as it seems. Of course, sticking around to face Lobo doesn't make much sense either.

And on Rann it looks like Starro's forces are getting the upper hand. It is enough to make Brainiac 3 hustle to finish his surgery on Tribulus so that the monster can start stomping on some starfish. Plasteel and neuragel? I guess we now have an explanation for the more Validus-like appearance of Tribulus on next month's cover.

There is so much good stuff in this comic that I really am going to miss it. Sure, Vril Dox is the straw that sturs the drink. But there are more stories out there for Lyrl, and the R.E.B.E.L. team, and Smite and Stormdaughter. In some ways, I think it is a shame that the new faces have dominated this book for so long because I still want to see those stories ... much more than I want to see Captain Comet's or Adam Strange's.

Hopefully the book ends on a high note and we see the team now and then in a big JLA or GL story line.

Overall grade: B/B+

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's such a shame that this book is getting canceled.