Wednesday, July 21, 2021

R.E.B.E.L.S. #3

R.E.B.E.L.S. #3 (June 2009)
title: "A World of Hurt"
writer: Tony Bedard
penciller: Andy Clarke
inker: Andy Clarke
colors: Jose Villarrubia 
letters: Steve Wands
editor: Brian Cunningham
cover: Andy Clarke

Reviewer: Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Recap: Vril Dox crash-landed on Earth while fleeing from a group of mercinaries, which included former L.E.G.I.O.N. recruit, Amon Haak. Supergirl stumbled upon their battle and Dox convinced her to help him. Elsewhere, the Omega Men were being pursued by L.E.G.I.O.N. peacekeeper robo-troops at the colony on Lunestus, and Tygor wondered why the L.E.G.I.O.N. would even be paying attention to such a small community. Then they received a L.E.G.I.O.N. broadcast announcing that all member worlds were now considered L.E.G.I.O.N. property and that a reward was being offered for the capture of Vril Dox. On Earth, Supergirl took Dox to a remove outpost at the South Pole, where he received a message from his descendant, Brainiac 5.

Brainiac 5 explained to his ancestor that there was no record of him after this day so he was providing him with the complete personnel files of the Legion of Super-Heroes to maximize his chances. Instead of recruiting Supergirl, as Brainiac 5 expected, Vril Dox stole a device from the mercenary Getorix that gave him control over the giant beast, Tribulus. He then travelled to Starhaven, home of the Anasazi Tribe of Earth, who had long ago been abducted and resettled. There, he recruited the outcast native, Wildstar, with the intent of awakening the latent talents of her people.

Vril Dox takes Wildstar aboard his craft and shows her a containment suit that will be necessary after her rebirth. She is confused but instead of providing any further details, Dox begins the process of awakening her abilities.
Two of her people hear screams and run into the ship. Dox tries to calm them but they are convinced that he has murdered Wildstar. One of them asks Dox about the containment suit just before it reaches out and grabs him by the neck.
After the men flee, Dox explains to Wildstar that although she must wear the suit forever, she now has the power to save billions of lives. He assures her that she has wings when she wants them and heightened senses to go along with them. He tells her of their mission and of how he used to lead the interstellar police force, L.E.G.I.O.N., until he was overthrown and it was turned into an army of oppression.

Meanwhile, at L.E.G.I.O.N. headquarters on Maltus, the supercompter, Silica, is frustrated that she has not received word from the mercenaries she sent to retrieve Dox.
With her new abilities, Wildstar has located Dox's next recruit on the planet Cairn, which is the former site of L.E.G.I.O.N. headquarters. They land their ship near the remnants of a battle, and soon find former L.E.G.I.O.N. officer, Strata, sitting atop a pile of robo-troops. Strata assumes that Dox is responsible for their attack and threatens to kill him.
Strata has a companion, Bouncer, and Dox convinces them that he is on the run too. Strata says that they received a panicked call this morning from their former teammate, Garryn Bek, who warned them that L.E.G.I.O.N. robo-troops were hunting down all former L.E.G.I.O.N. operatives. Her husband, Garv, got away with their baby, while she and Bouncer battled the robo-troops.

On Maltus, Silica receives a report that their orbital defense grid is attack by the Omega Men. She suspects the attack to be a diversion since pirates are not known for suicide runs, and they soon detect a smaller craft de-cloaking in L.E.G.I.O.N. plaza.
Tigorr and the other Omega Men manage to get the drop on Silica before she can react and she is seemingly destroyed by Elu. They investigate her remains and discover a Starro inside, which they assume to be responsible for taking over L.E.G.I.O.N. But their search is soon interrupted.
Strata! I recall being so happy to see Strata show up when I was first picking up this title and I still felt that same excitement rereading the issue for this post. If I could have only picked one former L.E.G.I.O.N. member to join Dox in this new series, it definitely would have been her. And I was just as happy to see that she and Garv continued their relationship, even if they are still getting robbed of the happy ending they deserve. I appreciate that Berdard kept her story simple and easy to explain. She retired, got married, had a child, and everything was going great until earlier in the day when a bunch of L.E.G.I.O.N. robo-troops showed up. No mystery to her story other than what we already faced with Dox, which is responsible for the attack. Importantly, it is not necessary for a new reader to know anything about the prior series other than that she was Dox's former teammate.

Speaking of who is responsible for the attack, this issue closed with quite the bombshell of suggesting it was a Starro. Of course, there is never just one Starro, but rather an army of them, which is seemingly confirmed when we see another one on the back of the new arrival. Are the Starros responsible for resting control of L.E.G.I.O.N. from Dox? Well, I know the answer but I do not want to spoil things for anyone who may be reading this for the first time. Either way, I think Starro is a great concept and his/their inclusion is welcome.

Andy Clarke's art remains top-notch and his design work for this series is phenomenal. From Wildstar's containment suit, to Silica, to the forrest on Cairn, everything looks wonderful. Of course, I was thrilled to see a new incarnation of L.E.G.I.O.N./R.E.B.E.L.S. his the stands in 2009, but seeing such high quality art on the title felt like a real blessing. And making Wildstar a mix of both Dawnstar and Wildfire was a nice touch and another great nod to the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Since we are into the era of writing-for-the-trade now, there are some thoughts I am going to hold off on until the first story arc reaches its conclusion. But as you can tell, I am very pleased with how things are starting off. Bedard is doing a great job in introducing these characters and the concept behind the series without requiring new readers to be familiar with the previous titles. On the other hand, he is also staying very true to the spirit of the earlier titles and the characters who have returned so far. Unfortunately, with next issue, we will see the departure of Andy Clarke for a brief time, but have no fear, because we still have some great art to look forward to and some solid story-telling as well. So please check back with me next week as another well known alien race of the DCU gets involved!

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