Wednesday, March 31, 2021

R.E.B.E.L.S. '95 #4

R.E.B.E.L.S. '95 #4 (February 1995) 
writer: Tom Peyer
penciller: Derec Aucoin
inker: Mark Propst
colors: Stuart Chaifetz 
letters: Gaspar Saladino
editor: Dan Raspler
cover: Dave Johnson

Reviewer: Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Recap: Vril Dox, founder of the interplanetary security agency L.E.G.I.O.N., has been ousted and branded a criminal by his power mad son, Lyrl. Now he and a small band of loyalists flee their former comrades in a mysterious alien spacecraft from another time. As four of their number strike out on their own after a falling out with Dox on the L.E.G.I.O.N. planet called Crell, three are arrested for rescuing an innocent from a brutal police assault.

Strata, Stealth, and Borbb have been captured by L.E.G.I.O.N. troops and are having inhibiters placed on their bodies to prevent their escape.

On the planet Ontaeus, three citizens are playing a game while the King and his young daughter look on. Suddenly, the ball they are using explodes, killing all three of them. Lydea Mallor contacts the King on behalf of Lyrl and clearly implies that such incidents will continue if they do not agree to sign up for L.E.G.I.O.N. protection.

Word comes that three of the fugitives have been captured, including Lyrl's mother, Stealth. He says that the other two may be disposed of as they see fit but orders that his mother be returned to him.

Back on Crell, Dox and Lobo have been unable to regain control of their ship since it fed off the consciousness of a captured L.E.G.I.O.N. officer. A sharp turn sends Dox closer to the body of the officer and he is able to detach the cables connecting him to the ship, which causes the ship to crash.

Strata is returned to her cell but feels disoriented from the inhibitor that has been attached to her forehead. She is surrounded by other prisoners, most of whom are passed out, except for Phase.

Dox studies the cables that were attached to the L.E.G.I.O.N. officer and the part of the ship from which they emerged, noting that he has never encountered a device that so closely emulates an organism. He has determined that the ship is programmed to extract fuel from the nearest brain, but that to be of use, the target must generate the controlled alpha waves of a meditative state. A "junk mind," like that of the officer, transmits the wrong signals. He says his own mind would be suitable but that he knows of one thats even better. He goes to where Telepath is being held and discovers for the first time that he was shot by one of the L.E.G.I.O.N. troops who invaded the ship last issue. Fortunately, Telepath is alive and able to communicate.

Strata pretends to be still be disoriented by the initiator while Phase is using her powers to hide. Two L.E.G.I.O.N. guards were told that the cell needed to be cleared and are trying to figure out what to do with the prisoners. One of them says its a simple matter of subject "reclassification" and pulls out his gun. Strata sees him shoot the prisoner in the head and grows furious at what L.E.G.I.O.N. has become.

Dox questions Telepath about Lyrl and he denies being under the child's control. However, it is clear he is not thinking clearly as he describes feeling enraptured in his presence. He begs Dox not to let him die without seeing Lyrl again. Dox discovers that two inches of Telepath's vital arteries have been blasted to ash and he uses organic cable as a replacement. He warns Telepath that the cable is a loan and not a gift, and that if he crosses him in any way Dox will rip it right out of him.

Strata grabs the guard that fired the gun and tosses him into the other one just as Phase returns. She removes the inhibitor from Borbb just as more L.E.G.I.O.N. troops arrive. While Borbb confronts them, Strata goes after one of the guards.
Dox's ship has come under attack and he sees no choice in regaining control other than taking the cables and shoving them into his own head. Strata and the others are approaching in their own stolen craft and see the attack. Strata tells Borbb to teleport them each one at a time over to Dox's ship while she sets the controls so that their craft will crash into the tank that is firing on Dox. At the very last minute before the collision, Borbb transports Strata to the other ship.
Well, we made some definitely progress here in having Strata come to terms with their new mission and recommitting herself to their fight. Although I realize her internal struggle was certainly a valid storytelling approach, particularly in light of her and Garv being ripped apart, it felt like she was becoming something of a one-note character in that she seemed to exist for no other reason than throwing tantrums at Dox. I grew used to Strata and the others being more complex than I feel like they have been portrayed in this series so far and I hope resolving this will be a step in the right direction.

Phase and Stealth remain a bit neglected but at least they were front and center for much of the action in this issue. Stealth is likely going through a lot of emotions since her son took over L.E.G.I.O.N. but we have gotten no hint of that for a few issues. And since Phase declined to return to the future, we have not seen much of what is going on in her head. I am happy that Borbb has becoming a valuable member of the team, but once again, we have almost no idea what his thoughts are on anything that has occurred. 

Peyer did a wonderful job of balancing characters and multiple storylines in the previous series but I still find his characterization to be lacking here. This has been Dox and Strata's show for the most part, and I hope with Strata's tense feelings towards him resolved, we can start to dig into the others more. Unfortunately, Garv is still out there on his way to locate his wife, so I fear that will likely sidetrack us from other potential stories. 

I have given up hope that we will ever see most of the group I still refer to as the "new recruits," except Lydea Mallor. I still expect we will see her redemption, as well as the others, but I do not see us revisiting most of those characters in depth. That is a shame because quite a few had a great deal of potential and I liked the idea of the cast expanding. But that simply is not the direction things appear to be going so I have to accept that.

One big plus in this issue was seeing that Telepath still lived. I was sincerely afraid he got killed off last issue and I would hate to see him thrown away like that. As much as I do not like seeing him remain under Lyrl's control for so long, I felt a huge relief after this issue and found myself intrigued as to how what his dynamic will be with the others now.

This issue was sort of a two-steps forward, one-step back scenario. I was thrilled to see Telepath still alive and have Strata reaffirm her commitment to the team, but most of my complaints still remain. I am starting to suspect this will be my opinion for many of the issues we have coming but I guess we will see. Please check back with me next week as the subplot involving the planet Ontaeus takes center stage!

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