Wednesday, November 10, 2021

R.E.B.E.L.S. #19

R.E.B.E.L.S. #19 (October 2010)
title"Sons of Brainiac, Part 2: Name & Number"
writer: Tony Bedard
penciller: Claude St. Aubin
inker: Scott Hanna
colors: Tanya Horie; Richard Horie
letters: Travis Lanham
editor: Brian Cunningham
cover: Kalman Andrasofszky

Reviewer: Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Recap: Dox transplanted the planet Rann to the former location of the destroyed planet Tamaran to prevent disaster from the loss of so much mass in its solar system. He also restored the atmosphere of Rann, established a new L.E.G.I.O.N. headquarters on its surface, and allowed the surviving Tamaraneans to settle in its Southern hemisphere.

Dox's son Lyrl, now known as Brainiac 3, used a pulsar star to create a powerful entity, Pulsar Stargrave, which he ordered to attack his father's homeworld, Colu. Dox happened to be on Colu visiting the supposedly inert body of his father, the original Brainiac, and was alerted to his son's action. But before he could respond to his son's invasion, his father awoke from his coma intent on killing Dox.

At the new L.E.G.I.O.N. headquaters, Captain Comet accidently walks in on Amon watching Khund pornography. Fortunately, for Khund males, pornography consists of two fully clothed woman fighting. Amon notes that he had to turn off Newsnode because he got sick of watching Dox receive a hero's welcome on his homeworld of Colu. At the same time, Dox is fleeing from his father, Brainiac, when he runs into a troop of Coluan soldiers.

Elsewhere on Colu, Brainiac 3 demands that the ruling council surrender but they are confident that their suborbital defense ring will stop his new weapon, Pulsar Stargrave. They are quickly proven wrong.
Both Dox and Brainiac become aware of what Brainiac 3 is up to, and Dox immediately joins the ruling council, which is in the midst of panic.
Dox explains that his son wants access to the data-core and that their only option left is to destroy it. They scoff at the idea of throwing away both their control and three thousand years of archived wisdom, but Dox points to the destruction taking place outside. They agree and give the self-destruct order, but for some reason it does not go through.

They learn that Brainiac has reconnected to the data-core, which he designed, and that he denied their order. Dox suggests that now would be a good time to go thermonuclear, but Brainiac has already reached that conclusion. Dox attempts to communicate with his son by his name, Lyrl, instead of Brainiac 3, before the missiles impact.
Lyrl is not surprised that his father's personal forcefield protected him from the blast, although the ruling council was not so lucky.
Brainiac initiates countermeasures against Pulsar Stargrave, who gets caught in a force-field array. Stargrave requests permission from Lyrl to obliterate this hemisphere, which is denied. He attempts to contact his father and discovers that he is fleeing the battle.
Instead of seeing the aftermath of the explosion, we go directly to a small bar on Raggashoon, which is largest city of Rashashoon, the pleasure planet of the Vega system. Dox is appealing to someone for help, noting that this is a last resort for him, but promising both reward money and a truly worthy foe.
Okay, so before commenting on this issue, I promised a recap on the significance of Pulsar Stargrave, a name that most readers of this blog are likely familiar with, so I have lifted this history from Who's Who and our prior post on the character. He originally appeared in the late 30th Century looking for allies to help him in a battle against Mordru. Originally he monitored the Time Trapper, but when the Legion defeated the Time Trapper Pulsar decided to ally himself with them instead. He tried to convince them that Mordru was the greater threat, and even told Brainiac 5 that he, Pulsar, was his father. He claimed to be a Coluan scientist who had been caught in an accident with a neutron star. He showed the ability to project heat, light, and energy, including red sun radiation, and was able to withstand Superboy's strongest punch.

When Brainiac 5 went to Xerox to steal a magical jewel for Pulsar, the jewel revealed to him that Pulsar was actually the original Brainiac, somehow time-slipped from the 20th Century after his final battle with Superman. The Legion then met Pulsar again on the planet Colu and knocked him into Colu's sun. Although the Legion believed Pulsar to be destroyed, he was not. He initiated a complex plot to drive Brainiac 5 insane, murdered one of Ultra Boy's old girlfriends, and framed the murder first on Ultra Boy, and then on Brainiac 5, who realized the true culprit and destroyed Pulsar Stargrave. Another version of Pulsar Stargrave used an army of Computo robots to try to enslave the planet Bismoll, but was destroyed by Matter-Eater Lad and the Legion of Substitute Heroes.

After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Vril Dox II liberated Colu from the Computer Tyrants, the Tyrants uploaded their consciousness to an orbital satellite, and created an android called Mr Starr, who looked identical to the pre-Crisis Stargrave. He attempted to conquer Talok VIII by posing as a hero. As Talok VIII's planetary champion, Lyrissa Mallor, was absent working with L.E.G.I.O.N., the inhabitants welcomed him. But he then sought revenge on Dox's team by accelerating the age of Mallor's daughter and sending her out to assassinate the L.E.G.I.O.N. She killed her mother before she was caught and deprogrammed. The L.E.G.I.O.N. then tracked her back to Talok VIII, where Starr was believed to have been destroyed. 

Well, its not often I get to revisit the history of both the Legion of Superheroes and L.E.G.I.O.N. to this degree, but this character seemed both significant enough but also obscure enough to warrant the recap. Also, his presence represents a significant turning point for the series in that so far nothing had suggested any divergence from the continuity of the prior L.E.G.I.O.N. series even though this one takes place after Final Crisis. But the use of the name here definitely suggests that it is new and not something our cast would be familiar with from prior adventures.

I have to admit that while I have generally loved this series, I am so far underwhelmed with this version of Stargrave. Much of the charm of past incarnations comes from his physical resemblance to Brainiac, albeit he is usually a larger, more physically menacing version. It just feels a bit too generic in comparison to prior versions. Although his being Lyrl Dox's creation does potentially put to rest his place in the family tree, although much time will pass between when this story takes place and the 31st century, so it seems unlikely he was ever intended to play the role of Brainiac 4.

Putting aside Pulsar Stargrave, I did enjoy this issue, particularly seeing Vril and his son temporarily unite to battle his father. It was also refreshing to get a moment of Captain Comet and Amon together, as they are the only characters other than Dox remaining from the original series. Their interlude was pretty isolated from everything else going on so I cannot help but feel it was a nod to readers such as myself who was there at the start of the L.E.G.I.O.N. 

Another nod to the original series was the return of Lobo, who was an early member of L.E.G.I.O.N., even if he was tricked into it by Dox. I feel like I should be happy to see another connection to the original series, but long time readers will recall that I had grown fairly tired of the character long before the series ended. Having said that, I will reserve judgment since I have been happy with most of Bedard's decisions. So please check back with me next week and we will discover what role Lobo has to play in the drama unfolding on Colu!

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