Wednesday, July 7, 2021

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

R.E.B.E.L.S. #1 (April 2009)
title: "The Future is Now"
writer: Tony Bedard
penciller: Andy Clarke
inker: Andy Clarke
colors: Jose Villarrubia 
letters: Travis Lanham
editor: Mike Marts
cover: Andy Clarke

Reviewer: Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Recap: In the prior series, Vril Dox, the super-intelligent founder of the interplanetary police agency L.E.G.I.O.N., became a fugitive from his own organization. His infant son, Lryl Dox, also possessed super-intelligent and created a brainwashing device to take over the organization. Eventually, with the help of fellow fugitives and former L.E.G.I.O.N. officers Stealth, Telepath, Phase, Borb Borbb, Strata, and Garv, Vril was able to free everyone from the brainwashing and regain leadership.

Vril retired from L.E.G.I.O.N. and settled on a small asteroid base with his son, who had been reverted to a normal child, and the boy's mother, Stealth. He handed leadership over to Captain Comet of Earth, who vowed to rebuild the galaxy's trust in L.E.G.I.O.N.
On Earth, a young couple is enjoying a ride on a small boat when they witness a space ship crash into the lake. The splash topples their boat but they recover in time to see Vril Dox step out of the wreckage. He asks for the location of the nearest restroom and they point him to a nearby building.
This second ship contains four aliens, Skwaul, Getorix, Tribulus, and former L.E.G.I.O.N. recruit, Amon Hakk. They are hunting for Vril Dox.
The building that Dox entered explodes, but not before he entered the sewers below. He knows it is only a matter of time until they find the psionic decoy he left and follow him.

Dox soon finds himself in battle with his pursuers in a crowded city street, and Supergirl is attracted by the commotion.
Dox convinces Supergirl that they have to flee before some bystanders get killed. Once they are airborne, Dox introduces himself and explains that he was instructed to have her look at the disc he is holding and say the word "cephalophore." Supergirl goes into a trance and uses her heat vision to biodownload a large file onto the disc. Once she awakens, they find a nearby computer to check the disc, which contains the blue prints for some sort of device. 

Elsewhere in space, the Omega Man, Tigorr is being pursued by L.E.G.I.O.N. peacekeeper robo-troops. He makes to his comrades aboard their ship and they flee. One of them questions by L.E.G.I.O.N. would bother with a flyspeck colony like Lunestus.
They pick up a broadcast from Silica, the living computer that controls the peacekeepers. She announces that all L.E.G.I.O.N. member worlds are henceforth considered L.E.G.I.O.N. property and that non-sanctioned intersteller traffic is suspended. She also announces that a reward is being offered for the capture of Vril Dox.

On Earth, Dox and Supergirl have gone to a remote scientific outpost in Antartica to build the device specified in the blue prints. Once completed, Dox enters the disc and a message is sent into his mind.
This was a pretty fast-paced return to the world of L.E.G.I.O.N. and R.E.B.E.L.S. Although Comet had been left in charge at the conclusion of the previous series, subsequent guest-spots in other titles had established that this was no longer the case and that Dox was once again in charge. It is not at all clear at this point, however, why Dox is once again on the run from the organization he founded.

One of the things that most bothered me about the last R.E.B.E.L.S. series was how the newer recruits of L.E.G.I.O.N. were pushed aside in favor of the older characters. Several of them had shown a great deal of potential, particularly the Khund warrior Amon Hakk. So it was wonderful to see him at the forefront here, even if it was as one of the apparent mercenaries after Dox. He is certainly not the first member of L.E.G.I.O.N. to want to kill Dox. Or the first to actually try. It has been long enough since I read this that I do not recall how he ended up a mercenary but I am excited to find out.

It would have been nice to get even a glimpse of some of the rest of a former cast, but that is just a minor complaint. I understand that by 2009, we are well into the era of stories being written for trade paperbacks.  Also, even in the original L.E.G.I.O.N. series Dox was the primary focus for the first couple of issues and quite a bit thereafter. 

As to why DC chose to bring these characters back in a new R.E.B.E.L.S. title instead of a L.E.G.I.O.N. series, I have never really understood. But Bedard does a great job of establishing the premise very quickly while holding back on revealing who or what is responsible for Dox once again becoming a fugitive. I quite like not finding out right away, although his son Lyrl is obviously a prime candidate after what happened in the last series.

The appearance of Brainiac 5 was a wonderful surprise when I originally picked up this issue. It always felt like the L.E.G.I.O.N.'s connection to the Legion of Super-Heroes was initially intended to be quite strong, but became more tenuous as the series progressed thanks to various retcons and reboots. Spotlighting the familial relationship of two of the teams' most important members establishes early on that no matter how tenuous it may get at times, there will always be a connection between the teams.

I do not want to spoil anything, but things will continue moving at a fast pace for a while and we can expect significantly more interaction with the greater DC universe than we saw at the start of the L.E.G.I.O.N. series. So please check back with me next week for "The First Recruit!"

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