Wednesday, September 15, 2021

R.E.B.E.L.S. #11

R.E.B.E.L.S. #11 (February 2010)
title: "The Son & Stars, Part Two"
writer: Tony Bedard
penciller: Claude St. Aubin
inker: Scott Hanna
colors: Jose Villarrubia 
letters: Travis Lanham
editor: Brian Cunningham
cover: Kalman Andrasofszky

Reviewer: Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Recap: Vril Dox went on the run after Starro the Conqueror took over L.E.G.I.O.N. and put a bounty on his head. He received a message through time from his descendant, Brainiac 5, who warned 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 that gave him control over the giant beast, Tribulus. He gathered others, including Wildstar, a tracker, former L.E.G.I.O.N. officer Strata, and her companion, Bounder. 

The Dominator homeworld was soon conquered by Starro, and a Dominator admiral, Xylon, took refuge with Dox, as did a Durlan, Captain Ciji, who was sent by the Counsel of Durla to seek his help. Dox activated the "iron curtain" protocols that commanded all of the peacekeeping robo-troops of L.E.G.I.O.N. to abandon their posts and create a barrier in space around Maltus, the location of L.E.G.I.O.N. headquarters. Dox recovered his son, Lyrl, who claimed that his mother, Stealth, was murdered by L.E.G.I.O.N. troops. Dox was also contacted by Adam Strange, Captain Comet, and the dictator Kanjor-Ro, whose planet was conquered by Starro. While they united on the planet Vrool to discuss their next action, deceased heroes throughout the galaxy began arising from the dead as Black Lanterns in a bid to eliminate all emotion and life from the universe. Among those reanimated by Black Lantern rings was former L.E.G.I.O.N. officer Stealth, mother to Dox's child. Dox and his companions stumbled upon a battle between Sinestro Corpsmen and Black Lanterns, and following the death of a Sinestro Corpsmen, his ring immediately went to Dox, just in time for Stealth's arrival. At the same time, Lyrl Dox was captured by Starro, who joined with him and anointed him as one of his elite Vanguard. This made Lyrl loyal to Starro while also allowing him more free will than a typical victim.

After accepting a yellow Sinestro Corps ring, Dox receives a message from Sinestro to immediately report to the planet Korugar. He promptly ignores it.
Nearby, several members of the Sinestro Corps battle the Black Lantern Harbinger, while Dox confronts Stealth. He temporarily blinds her and uses his ring to flee with the surviving Sinestro Corpsmen.

Adam Strange has successfully taken most of their allies to the planets surface, including Captain Comet, Kanjar-Ro, Ciji, Xylon, Bounder, Garv, Strata, and their infant child, Rocky.  They are still missing Amon Hakk, who remained with their damaged ship in hopes that the self-sealing hull may repair itself, and Wildstar, who was left behind when they fled the planet Voorl after an attack by some of Starro's Vanguard. Dox soon arrives with the surviving Sinestro Corpsmen.
Adam Strange explains that the Black Lanterns can regenerate from just a few cells and that the Flash, superhero of Earth, said that to kill them they need to combine beams from two different color rings. He just has time to warn them that everyone the Black Lanterns kill comes back as one of them before their conversation is interrupted.
Dox tries to contact Wildstar for help but Amon Hakk says that she has still not caught up with them. He is quickly proven wrong as she suddenly arrives and explains that she saw the Black Lantern Stealth slaughter many of Starro's best troops.

Meanwhile, on Maltus, Lyrl is building a transmittal portal for Starro so he will never have to worry about any field blockade stopping him. Starro orders him to open a door to the planet Voorl so that he can check in on Dox, but those of his Vanguard who were beaten by the Black Lanterns flood through.
While Starro battles his former Vanguard, Dox leads the charge against the Black Lanterns on the planet Kandato. Their battle is interrupted when a portal appears, and Lyrl jumps out, followed by some unwelcome guests. 
The Black Lanterns notice the hatred burning from Starro and focus their attention on him. Dox uses the distraction to try to get the Starro off his son, but Lyrl resists and insists on being called Brainiac 3. Stealth grabs them both but Starro intercedes as he wants both Dox and Lyrl under his control. While they battle, Dox consults with his son, who realizes that they can use the Adam Strange's Rannian Holo-Blaster to find the right wavelength of green to use with his father's yellow ring to defeat the Black Lanterns.
Their plan works for a time, until one of the Black Lanterns knocks out Strange and disables his gun. Dox is fed up and uses his ring to gather the remaining Black Lanterns and send them back through the portal with Starro, despite his son's protests. The Black Lantern Stealth grabs her son, and Dox's first instinct is to save him, but Lyrl continues to declare his devotion to Starro.
After the portal is closed, Dox receives another message from Sinestro demanding his presence on the planet Korugar. When Dox refuses, he is rejected from the Sinestro Corps for insubordination. Dox forgets the ring and refocuses his attention on Starro and his son.
Just like last issue, this is a great example of how to integrate a crossover into an ongoing series. Dox's conflict with Starro continues even as they both get distracted dealing with the intervention of the Black Lantern Corps, but the ongoing storyline still gets developed as we see Lyrl fall under the control of Starro. I was impressed that we still got a few nice moments involving Amon Hakk, Wildstar, and Strata given the large number of characters present in this issue.

My only criticism, and I hesitate to even call it that given how much I enjoyed this story, is that Stealth was the only deceased character from the previous two series to be resurrected as a Black Lantern. I expect most fans of the original L.E.G.I.O.N. series probably expected founding member Lydea Mallor to appear as well. However, given that we have yet to glimpse her daughter in this incarnation of the series, and she has not even been referenced to my recollection, I can understand why they stuck with just Stealth. Still, as powerful as the imagery of a resurrected Stealth was, I would have enjoyed seeing everyone's reaction to Lydea appearing as well. I think it would have been especially painful to Strata, who is already conflicted over working with Dox again.

One of my favorite aspects of this issue is that I felt a reader would not need to know very much about the Blackest Night crossover to enjoy it, which is why I did not spend much time giving an overview of the larger story. All that someone needs to know is that deceased heroes are being resurrected as Black Lanterns, and that anyone killed by a Black Lantern becomes one. Beyond that, any reader would know that they will ultimately be defeated in the larger crossover, and other details do not really impact our series. It was fun to see Dox wield a power ring, and to see Starro facing his own former Vanguard as Black Lanterns, and it is a credit to Bedard that he knew how to make this crossover enjoyable for fans who might not be following Blackest Night.

Next issue is not an official Blackest Night crossover, but if I remember correctly, we get a bit of resolution to the events here before our focus returns to Starro's plans. We will also see the return of the Omega Men, so please check back with me next week as we see if either they or Dox have come up with a plan to defeat Starro!

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