Wednesday, March 10, 2021

R.E.B.E.L.S. '94 #1

R.E.B.E.L.S. '94 #1 (November 1994) 
writer: Tom Peyer
penciller: Arnie Jorgenson
inker: James Pascoe
colors: Stuart Chaifetz 
letters: Gaspar Saladino
editor: Dan Raspler
cover: Dave Johnson

Reviewer: Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Recap: Vril Dox's infant son, Lyrl, used his father's enhanced charisma program to brainwash most of the L.E.G.I.O.N. Using a mysterious space ship that appeared from another time, Dox escaped Cairn with fellow L.E.G.I.O.N. members Phase, Stealth, Strata, Lobo, and Borbb. They were also accompanied by Telepath, although he remains a victim of Lyrl's brainwashing. They successfully raided a L.E.G.I.O.N. freighter for supplies but Dox destroyed a patrol ship during their escape, killing all aboard. Strata was furious over his actions but Dox believed that he had no choice. Phase noticed a large number of dots on one of their screen, which turned out to be a fleet of L.E.G.I.O.N. ships headed their way.

The fleet attempts to hail Dox but he ignores their call. Everyone bombards Dox with questions as to what they should do, until he finally losses his temper.
Everyone leaves to give him some peace and to explore their new ship. Elsewhere, Lydea and Davroth are travelling aboard one of the ships in the fleet with Lyrl when the sensors pick up a humanoid floating in space, coated in a protective energey sheath. They bring the being aboard and discover it is a Green Lantern. Specifically, the last Green Lantern in existence at this time, Kyle Rayner. He recognizes their L.E.G.I.O.N. insignia from one of their previous trips to Earth. 
Kyle expects a warm welcome so he is surprised when Lyrl immediately places him under arrest.

Lobo visits Telepath, who they have changed up because he is still under Lyrl's control. Lobo taunts him that if they are attacked by the L.E.G.I.O.N. fleet, he will be killed while Lobo will just ride the debris to the nearest gin mill. At the same time, Phase is trying to calm Strata, who is still fuming over Dox's actions. Strata storms off, and Borrb calls for Phase to join him as he has just made the disturbing discovery that one of the barrels onboard is filled with brains. 

Stealth is the only one who remained with Dox, and she tells him she cannot believe that their son would go so far as to kill them. There is a loud noise and the ship shakes, which Dox takes as a sign that they are coming under attack. But when they see an image of their own ship on one of the screens, they notice that several "legs" have expanded from beneath the ship and are starting to move.

Kyle insists to Lyrl that he has no basis for holding him under arrest and the child points to the fact that he is carring an unregistered weapon with enough power to level a planet. Lyrl tells him that there are known terrorists in this sector and they cannot take any chances. One of the troops informs Lyrl that the terrorists have engaged the fleet and Kyle offers to help.

Dox's ship appears to be winning against the fleet, assisted by its strange legs that are ripping through other ships like tissue paper. After having to save several L.E.G.I.O.N. troops that were blown into space, Kyle buys into Lyrls' claim that the attackers must be terrorists. 
When Dox sees that a Green Lantern has joined the battle, he takes their ship into the atmosphere of a nearby planet. Once there, he orders Borrb to teleport to Green Lantern and attempt to distract him
Phase uses the sensors to locate a concentration of humanoid life nearby, which is surrounded by unpopulated terrain. Dox takes his ship into the village, which makes it hard for Lyrl's troops to track them. Lyrl orders the village blasted to atoms and Kyle notices when they began firing. 
Once Kyle repels the fleet, Dox meets him among the bodies in the ruins of the village. Kyle wonders if they knew Hal Jordan, and when Dox asks if something happened to him, Kyle explains how he was driven over the edge by a scene very much like the one they are looking at. Kyle assumes they are the good guys and offers to help them in return for being pointed back to Earth. 
Dox responds by pointing in the direction of Earth and inviting Kyle to go back to his soft life and easy problems. Kyle calls Dox a murderer and strikes him before leaving the planet. Phase asks Dox why he provoked the Green Lantern when he could have helped them. Dox explains that Kyle's stomach was too weak and he could never face the hard choices that they will have to make. Besides, Dox main concern at the moment is what to do about Strata.

Lyrl has returned with his fleet to Cairn and orders Lydea to add Green Lantern to their database of capital offenders. He also orders a physical interrogation of every officer in the fleet and demands a full accounting of how their defeat happened. A voice calls out that L.E.G.I.O.N. may just be too slow and bloated to get the job done, and says that if he is given ship, he can bring the deserters in. Lyrl recognizes the speaker but does not recall ever exposing him to his enhanced charisma program that brainwashed everyone else. Then we learn that the speaker is Strata's husband Garv.
Oh, Garv. Although I understand Garv's feelings about Dox, I am not a fan of how far his vendatta is driving him to go. It was wonderful to see Strata and him reunited near the end of L.E.G.I.O.N.'s run, but they barely made it through their wedding ceremony before Strata left. The fact that Garv would not join her just feels to out of character to me. Yes, he left the team some time ago and made very clear he would not work with Dox again. But after seeing them marry, it just does not feel right to me that Garv would not follow her. And having them reunite so quickly only to be immediately torn apart just feels cheap. Of course, its possible that working with Lyrl is some ruse on his part and things may not be as they appear on the final page, so I guess we will just have to see.

While I would not call this a bad issue, it did not exactly make me excited for the relaunch. The art team does not feel appropriate for the story being told in that the art does not really convey the sense of menace we should be feeling under this new status quo. In particular, the way Lyrl is drawn undercuts viewing him as a real threat, which had not been the case in the final issues of L.E.G.I.O.N. There has also been a real lack of characterization beyond Strata repeatedly throwing tantrums. Tom Peyer did a great job of balancing multiple subplots and giving multiple members a chance to shine on L.E.G.I.O.N., but that has not been the case so far here. Having the newer recruits like Lydea under Lyrl's control has left me feeling like alot of great characters are being completely wasted. And there has been no hint as to whats going on with Captain Comet or Marij'n for some time. Phase and Borbb are there but being neglected as well, and Stealth just stands around worrying about Dox or Lyrl. Of course, she is Lyrl's mother, so this has to be awful for her, but I am used to her character being used much more effectively. I am tempted to ask if it was perhaps a mistake to have a major guest appearance so early because it kept some of the regular cast from getting more attention. On the other hand, the final scene between Kyle and Dox was my favorite moment of the issue.

I hope some of what is bothering me just turns out to be growing pains and this series finds its way soon. I do think Peyer is a great writer, but there is obviously a reason I dropped the book fairly quickly when it first came out, even if I do not recall precisely what I was feeling back then. The underlying premise to the series is an intriquing one, and the 2000s R.E.B.E.L.S. series was fantastic. Check back with next week and we will see if this one can start to live up to its potential!

2 comments:

  1. I do like that cover! The inside art, not so much.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is a good point, the cover is solid.

    ReplyDelete