Wednesday, August 4, 2021

R.E.B.E.L.S. #5

R.E.B.E.L.S. #5 (August 2009)
title: "The Stars We Are"
writer: Tony Bedard
penciller: Claude St. Aubin
inker: Scott Hanna
colors: Jose Villarrubia 
letters: Steve Wands
editor: Brian Cunningham
cover: Kalman Andrasofszky

Reviewer: Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Recap: Vril Dox found himself on the run after the new leader of L.E.G.I.O.N. put a bounty on his head. He received a message through time from his descendant, Brainiac 5, who explained that there was no record in his era of Vril Dox after this day. To ensure his survival, Brainiac 5 provided him with the complete personnel files of the Legion of Super-Heroes to maximize his chances. Vril Dox then stole a device from one of the mercenaries chasing him, which gave him control over the giant beast, Tribulus. He travelled to Starhaven, home of the Anasazi Tribe of Earth, who had long ago been abducted by aliens and resettled. There, he recruited the outcast native, Wildstar, and used technology to awaken the latent tracking talents of her people.  Unfortunately, the effects of the process mean that she must now wear a special containment suit for the rest of her life. He then travelled to the planet Cairn to recruit former L.E.G.I.O.N. officer, Strata, and her companion, Bounder. Their ship came under attack by a Durlan, Captain Cici, who commands a troop of Khund warriors.

Wildstar is surprised to see a child commanding a small army of Khunds, but Dox explains that the child is really a Durlan spy who has assumed a shape that others will underestimate. While Strata holds off the Khunds boarding their ship, Dox receives a surprising message from the Durlan.
Strata pushes the Khunds back to their ship and blocks them from returning. Suddenly, a hole is torn in the hull by the Starro-controlled warrior from last issue and the Khunds are sucked out into space. She sends a message to Vril Dox and introduces herself as Astrild Stormdaughter. 
She notes that her master finds his intellect intriguing and she invites Dox to join them. He questions the notion that the only way he can keep his freedom is to surrender it to a giant one-eyed starfish, but she says that is not her master. The Durlan, Captain Cici, orders one of her men to fire upon Astrild to distract her.

Meanwhile, on the Dominator homeworld, their Emporer dismisses the warning of an admiral to investigate the wormhole they just discovered nearby. The Admiral offers to resign but his concerns soon prove valid when it is announced that their world has come under attack.
While they battle the invading army, Astrild enters Captain Cici's ship and takes down the gunner who fired upon her. Wildstar wants to fight her but Dox sends her to retrieve whats left of the sentient supercomputer Silica instead. Wildstar quickly finds the body of Silica but almost fails to notice a Starro approaching.
While Astrild rampages through Cici's ship, the Khund warrior and former L.E.G.I.O.N. member Amon Hakk flees in an E.V.A. suit. The ship is soon destroyed and Astrild turns her attention to Dox, but his ship jumps away just in time. It appears Amon was able to reach it, however, as he appears on the bridge and pulls a gun on Dox.

On the Dominator homeworld, their defense is working and they appear to be driving back the invaders. But an object crashes onto the surface and from the smoke and debris emerges the invading army's leader. At the same time, the three Psions who saved the Omega Men last issue are watching the battle aboard their space station. They tell the Omega Men that the leader of the invading army is Starro the Conqueror, the man they must assassinate.
This was a fun, action-packed issue and I give a lot of credit to artist St. Aubin for giving us some amazing battle scenes. Whether its Strata fighting the Khund warriors in close combat aboard the ship or the Dominators confronting the invading army, he does some spectacular work here.

Bedard also does a great job of moving the story along at a fast pace and he introduces an interesting element with the character of Astrild. The idea of someone who serves Starro but is permitted to maintain some free will is not something I recall running into before this story. Presumably, this is reserved for characters of unique ability, like Astrild or Dox, who might be hampered if robbed of that free will.

Another unique aspect to this story is Bedard's decision to include the Dominators but not make them the main adversary, which is their usual role. In fact, they are presented in at least somewhat of a sympathetic manner since it is their world that has come under attack.

One mystery left hanging is the fate of the Durlan, Captain Cici, but I suspect almost no readers thought she went down with her ship. She is far too intriguing to be disposed of so quickly and undoubtedly she made her way to Dox's ship just as Amon Hakk did. I am very much looking forward to seeing more interaction between her and Dox.

That is going to wrap things up for this installment but please check back with me next week as things continue to get worse for the Dominators!

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