R.E.B.E.L.S. #28 came out last week, the last issue of this title in what is a tough month for DC's lower selling books. R.E.B.E.L.S., JSA All-Stars, and Doom Patrol, all on my pull list, all got cancelled this month. I always felt that this was the 'little book that could', a title that started with almost unknown characters followed by a period of hodge-podge middling characters that just never seemed to 100% gel. The book has been in flux for the last year as it tried to find the right roster and right feel. The better known characters added to the title pushed the newer ones into the background but didn't add to sales.
Still, Tony Bedard handled the book well because he kept Vril Dox at its center. Dox is such a great character; he was the tent pole that held this book up.
Despite that great characterization, the title is over. What amazes me is that I reviewed the first 2 issues because of a guest appearance by Supergirl. The hook in those early issues kept me here and kept me reviewing. In a lot of ways I am sort of sad to see this book end.
One last opening comment. Aaron Lopresti did the cover and it is just great. Lopresti better find a home on a DC monthly after Weird Worlds ends. I loved Lopresti's work on Wonder Woman. I really hope to see him on another DC book soon.
The book picks up in the middle of the attempted Starro take-over of Ranagar. While the original R.E.B.E.L.S. are on the Psion homeworld trying to get Lobo, the newer members of the team are fighting Starro's hordes.
Starro is pretty confident he is going to win, stating that he will make the Tamaranian sisters Starfire and Blackfire his concubines. Captain Comet, always a bit overzealous in his thought of Starfire, declares his intentions, claiming Kory is spoken for. I have to say, I have never quite understood Comet's powers. Here he shoots a beam of energy from his chest. I didn't know he could do that.
I love Komand'r's smug look as she ask Kory about his claim. But Starfire blushing seems out of character. She would probably have a sarcastic or perplexed look on her face by his statement.
Meanwhile, Lobo and Smite continue to drink on the Psion homeworld. The other R.E.B.E.L.S. are understandably confused. Aren't they supposed to be fighting? Even Smite states that he is looking for revenge for Stormdaughter. Lobo says her death is really on the hands of Starro for sending her.
Unfortunately, with the title ending, it seems Stormdaughter won't be revived or resurrected. Too bad, I liked her a lot.
After a quick discussion, the R.E.B.E.L.S. leave for Ranagar while Lobo and Smite stick around. Unfortunately, the subplot of the Lobo clones also will remain unanswered as we don't know what happened to them.
The fight on Ranagar seems to be slipping towards a Starro victory as Captain Comet falls to a face-hugger.
One thing I have liked about the last few issues has been the addition of the complex Komand'r. She is almost a reflection of Dox, an unlikeable hero. She is a fascist, power-hungry, sadistic. But she is also fiercely loyal to her people, has helped Dox maintain order, and has suppressed her desires to become part of the Ranagar world. Here she teams up with her Starfire while claiming she will always hate her. That depth of character has always been a strong part of R.E.B.E.L.S., everyone was three dimensional here. It is something I will miss when this title ends.
Luckily, Tribulus shows up with his psionic lightning and starts freeing portions of the enslaved populace including Dox. Now how his psychic lightning only affects the Starro starfish and not the host body, I don't know. Shouldn't the bodies be charred or hurt by such a blast?
Anyways, with his power levels dropping because of loss of slaves, Starro tosses out a bluff saying he will have all the Ranagarian slaves kill themselves (including Alana Strange and family). It is a clear bluff. If all the slaves die, Starro will be powerless. Also, I am pretty sure that the heroes won't be forgiving to a genocidal maniac.
It doesn't really matter because before he can actualize the bluff, the freed Dox takes control of Tribulus and batters Starro.
I don't think that Dox acted like a puppeteer in the past when he controlled Tribulus. I think he just mentally commanded him. Here, Tribulus mirrors Dox' movements. I thought this seemed a bit off.
The beaten Starro is then pushed through an open teleporter channel, sending him to the Psion homeworld where Lobo and Smite are eagerly awaiting him. My guess is this doesn't end well.
Back on Ranagar, Dox is reinstated as a hero and a ceremony links him Blackfire.
How great would it be to have read more of these two, explore their relationship. They are both manipulators. But they probably respect each other tremendously. Would they work together seamlessly? Or always have friction? I do like how Dox is now called Blackfire's consort.
Meanwhile, Komand'r knows that Kory isn't going to stick around and be with Captain Comet.She is simply too big a persona for someone like Comet, she is too much. Even here on the page she is bigger than life, existing outside of the panels. I love Comet's sad look, knowing it would be futile to try to hold on to her.
I thought this was a great closing page for the title. Look at this team, they don't look like they are having fun. They look more like weary reluctant heroes. Unlike the dramatic last pages of JSA All-Stars, or the humorous last pages of Doom Patrol (which I thought was a misstep by Giffen and crew), this seemed more like a resolute group who understands they need to plod on.
But it an interesting last page for other reasons. These were the original team members, they guys swept aside when the newer team members joined the book. Look at this group. Outside of Dox, none of them are on the cover. For me, these are the 'real' R.E.B.E.L.S.. You know that Starfire, Lobo, Adam Strange, and Captain Comet will all land somewhere else. These characters are probably destined for comic limbo and that's too bad.
R.E.B.E.L.S. was a fun ride, an nice look at some of the dustier corners of the cosmic DCU. But it was the early issues when Dox was making a team out of people who otherwise would kill each other that stand out for me. Too bad we won't see more of Dox.
Lastly, Claude St. Aubin should be commended for his art on the book, stepping in for Andy Clarke and giving the book a distinctive look.
Overall grade (issue): B
Overall grade (title as a whole): B