Wednesday, September 1, 2021

R.E.B.E.L.S. #9

R.E.B.E.L.S. #9 (December 2009)
title: "Strange Companions"
writer: Tony Bedard
penciller: Claude St. Aubin
inker: Scott Hanna
colors: Jose Villarrubia 
letters: Sal Cipriano
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 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 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 meant that she must now wear a special containment suit for the rest of her life. He then went to the planet Cairn to recruit former L.E.G.I.O.N. officer, Strata, and her companion, Bounder. 

At the same time, the homeworld of the Dominators came under attack by an invading army from another galaxy led by Starro the Conqueror. Dox's ship was attacked by a Durlan, Captain Ciji, who commanded a troop of Khund warriors. It turned out that Captain Ciji was there to appeal to Dox for help on behalf of the Council of Durla. 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. Dox contacted every major power in the galaxy for help to stop Starro's invading army but his overtures were rejected. He then recovers his son, Lyrl, who claims that his mother, Stealth, was murdered by L.E.G.I.O.N. troops. Meanwhile, the Psions recruit the Omega Men into their own plan to stop Starro.

While the Omega Men infiltrate Starro's homeworld, Strata reunites with her husband and child on the jungle world of Voorl.

The Dominator Fleet Admiral and Captain Ciji remain aboard ship and receive a call from Kanjar Ro, the dictator of the Planet Dohr who has battled the Justice League on numerous occasions. He claims to be offering assistance, but the Admiral sees the truth.
Kanjar Ro is furious, but is soon distracted as the Starro arrive and he is forced to flee his fortress.

Dox returns to his ship and Ciji advises him of the call they received from Ro. She explains that Xylon, which is what they are now calling the Dominator, hung up on Ro and walked off in a huff. They receive another call, this time from Adam Strange, the defender of the planet Rann.

Meanwhile, the Omega Men were wearing altered versions of Starro called "dark stars" to render themselves invisible while on the Starro homeworld. Broot senses something, like a faint hum, that no one else can hear. 
The Starros slowly turn to the Omega Men as they begin to sense the dark stars connection to their network.

On Dohr, Kanjor Ro is attempting to escape the invading Starro army. One of the soldiers has cornered him and is about to apply a Starro when help arrives.

When Adam Strange takes Kanjar Ro to rendezvous with Dox and the others, we see that they have also been joined by Earthman and former L.E.G.I.O.N. officer, Captain Comet. Dox is angry that Strange brought Kanjar Ro instead of Ro's weapon, the gamma gong, which is what he had actually been sent to retrieve. Strange explains that it was smashed but that does not matter because Dox only needs the unique metal it was made of. Dox's plan to stop Starro requires three devices, the gamma gong, another item on the planet Kalanor, and a certain Dominator weapons system. Dox suggests they all agree to work together.
Dox urges them to rest, and in four hours he will split them into smaller teams to retrieve the items.

Once they are alone with their child again, Garv urges Strata to leave with him. They are interrupted by Dox's son, Lyrl, who is asking to come with them when a large objects crashes nearby.

Okay, first of all, I love the cover to this issue. Both Strange and Comet are characters I have always been fond of and they both have a special significance to this series that goes back to the original L.E.G.I.O.N. run. Adam Strange was initially intended to be a member of the L.E.G.I.O.N., but became unavailable shortly before launch. So instead, the creative team used Captain Comet, who became very popular member, and even took over running the organization at the end of R.E.B.E.L.S. when Dox left with Stealth to care for their son. Seeing their presence in the title announced by that image of them almost busting out of the cover is a delight.

Kanjar Ro is a more suprising addition to the cast, although in keeping with series past of not shying away from darker characters. I mean, there is also Dominator on the team too, and they have traditionally been treated as being one of the most "evil" races in the DCU. I trust the Dominator Admiral far more than I do Kanjar Ro though.

The cast is getting a bit large, but we were still treated to some more personal moments with our core cast, such as Garv urging Strata to leave with their child, and Dox speaking with his son. They are the legacy members of our cast so as long as they do not get neglected, I am content. Hopefully, we will get some acknowledgement of Comet's history with the team next issue as he only showed up in a few panels here. They may not have been terribly close, but Comet frequently interacted with Strata and Garv in the original run and the three always seemed to like each other.

This was a time in DCU history where their cosmic characters were more prominent than ever before. After the success of the 2004 Adam Strange miniseries, DC began to really exploit that corner of the universe and this series was among the best of the era in fleshing it out. Of course, the final page showed that we are running into the Blackest Night crossover next issue and I cannot recall to what degree that sidetracked the main storyline. Hopefully, it will not kill the momentum too much because this series has been moving at a fantastic pace so far. Please check back with me next issue as we likely welcome a few more characters from the cosmic side of the DCU.

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