Wednesday, September 22, 2021

R.E.B.E.L.S. #12

R.E.B.E.L.S. #12 (March 2010)
title: "Secret Weapons"
writer: Tony Bedard
penciller: Geraldo Borges
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 then recovered his son, Lyrl, and they were soon joined by Adam Strange, Captain Comet, and the dictator Kanjor-Ro, whose planet was also 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. 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. 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. Dox used Adam Strange's Rannian Holo-Blaster to find the right wavelength of green to use with his yellow ring to dispatch the Black Lanterns. When the device was destroyed, he used his ring to gather all of the Black Lanterns and send them back through Lyrl's portal, along with his son. When Sinestro ordered all of his corpsmen to gather, Dox declined and was rejected by his yellow ring.

For three days, Starro has battled the Black Lantern forces that Dox transported to Maltus. Lyrl is growing concerned that the battle will demolish the giant city that covers the entire planet, and his attempts at replicating the type of radiant energy that can stop them have failed. He finally concludes that his father was correct that the best way to deal with them is to transport them elsewhere.
Lyrl asks Starro if they should resume their invasion of Antares, but Starro feels that it is time to turn their attention to Earth as it is her heroes who originally drew him to this galaxy.

Meanwhile, the Omega Men continue their mission to investigate Starro's home galaxy. The Psions tagged them with genetically altered Starro spores to hide their presence but they fear they were noticed when Broot made mental contact with their hivemind.
Strata informed Dox that she has decided to leave with her family so they are dropped off at a nearby planet. He friend Boulder, who initially joined Dox at her urging, has chosen to remain to help defeat Starro. 

Dox lays out his plan to gather three devices he believes they can use to stop Starro. He orders Kanjar Ro, Captain Comet, and Wildstar to retrieve the shards that use to make up Ro's weapon, the Gamma Gong, before it was destroyed. When Adam Strange returns, he will take Admiral Xylon, Cici, and Bounder to retrieve a Dominator Gene Bomb from Xylon's homeworld. Everyone else is to accompany Dox to Kalanor to get the third device.

Soon, Adam Strange transports his group to the Dominator homeworld, where they quickly locate a Gene Bomb. Unfortunately, it is guarded by several Dominators. 
While they battle, Dox arrives with his group on the planet Kalanor, which was ruled by Despero until it was overrun by Starro's army. They find Despero's head on a spike, which leads most of them to assume he is dead, although Dox knows better.
Dox says that he knows it will take weeks for him to regenerate, and that the process will certainly be noticed by his Starro-enslaved soldiers. He offers to help restore Despero in a single day if he agrees to help assassinate the being who conquered his world. Dox also requires something else, which only Despero can provide.
Captain Comet arrives with his group on Kanjar Ro's homeworld and they immediately encounter more Starro-enslaved soldiers.
Kanjar Ro storms off in anger, and they are about to pursue him, but instead they receive an order from Dox to focus on retrieving the shards. He wants them to forget about Ro and get what they need before the Dhorian army descends on them. Or that is what Dox claims to them, anyways. It
 turns out that he has sent Kanjor Ro on a secret mission, although the purpose of it remains unclear.

In Starro's galaxy, Broot takes the Omega Men to some old ruins on a planet now devoid of life. He explains that the inhabitants were a race of hunters that Starro had to eradicate because they knew how to kill him. Doc is left alone for some time to search their library in order to learn their secrets.
Last week, I mentioned what an excellent job Bedard did of handling the Blackest Night tie-ins without hurting the momentum of the series. I feel that even more strongly now that I have seen how quickly he is able to discard the crossover and resume the regular storyline. He also continues to do a great job balancing a very large cast. Sending them on separate missions creates a great opportunity to give them each a bit more individual attention, and having everyone bounce around to so many planets helps to give the story a more epic feel. It reinforces to us that the entire galaxy is under threat by Starro.

The only negative to this issue was the departure of Stealth and her family. She was my favorite character in the L.E.G.I.O.N. series and stuck around for the entirety of the original R.E.B.E.L.S. series. And even putting aside my personal fondness, her presence helped maintain a sense of connection between the three titles. As much as I enjoy seeing characters with a long DC history join the cast, such as Adam Strange, Kanjar Ro, and Despero, it feels like something important is being lost with her departure. 

In any event, I still enjoyed this issue a great deal, including the Omega Men segments now that we are seeing some payoff to their mission. For a while, it felt like their inclusion might be a bit too much for an already big group of characters, but having them off on their own for a while has helped me get a better feel for them and made them more appealing.

This issue had a fill in artist, but Gorges' style was not too distinct from St. Aubin's so as to make it jarring and I think he did a great job. I know St. Aubin returns next issue and remains as the primary artist for the series, but I would welcome Gorges' return on fill-in work. That is going to wrap things up this week but please join me next week as we hopefully learn what Dox is up to with Kanjar Ro and Despero.


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