31 July 2017

Review: R.E.B.E.L.S.: Sons of Brainiac by Tony Bedard, Claude St. Aubin, Scott Hanna, et al.

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2011 (contents: 2010) 

Acquired August 2012
Read September 2016
R.E.B.E.L.S.: Sons of Brainiac

Writer: Tony Bedard
Artists: Claude St. Aubin & Scott Hanna
Additional Pencils: Sergio Ariño
Additional Inks: Walden Wong
Colorists: Jose Vilarrubia, Tanya & Richard Horie
Letterer: Travis Lanham

The last volume of R.E.B.E.L.S. sees a new status quo emerge: New Rann, formerly Throneworld, has been transported into the Vega system, longtime base of operations for the Omega Men. In exchange, the people of New Rann have let Vril Dox set up a new headquarters for a new L.E.G.I.O.N. there. This pulls together a lot of the diverse threads of DC's space stories, even more when you remember (as writer Tony Bedard does) that the Vega system and the Omega Men were originally devised as backstory for the Teen Titans' Starfire, who turns up in this volume wondering what New Rann is doing where her home planet once was. And then once Starfire's sister, Queen Komand'r, and a pair of rookie Green Lanterns turn up, things really get crazy.

Poor Comet. Go find Marij'n-- she loved you.
from R.E.B.E.L.S. #18 (art by Claude St. Aubin & Scott Hanna)

Which is, of course, the exact kind of situation in which Vril Dox and thus R.E.B.E.L.S. as a series excel. In the book's first story, "What Happens in Vega...", things keep on escalating until Dox pulls the perfect rabbit out of his hat. It's like a classic L.E.G.I.O.N. tale of old, done just so, with humor and action. Starfire is a welcome addition to the team, and her relationship with Captain Comet gives that character-- a favorite of mine since Jim Starlin's Mystery in Space-- some much-needed focus. I liked how he had a much more "old-fashioned" view of relationships than Starfire, which makes sense, as he came of age during the 1950s! (And I was pleased that Adam and Comet discuss Tyrone, Comet's totally awesome genetically enhanced dog from that series, though sad that he doesn't actually turn up here.) And the idea of a relationship between Komand'r and Vril Dox is delicious.

Sadly, unfollowed-up-on thanks to the imminent series cancellation.
from R.E.B.E.L.S. #17 (art by Sergio Ariño & Scott Hanna)

The second story, "Sons of Brainiac," does something that's surprisingly never been done before: a reckoning between Vril Dox and his father, the original Brainiac. I am pretty sure there is some continuity-massaging going on here (the backstory for Brainiac, Vril Dox, and Colu doesn't match what I remember from L.E.G.I.O.N., I suspect because Brainiac's history was retconned in the Superman books in the 2000s), but it's still great to finally get to see Vril confront his father-- and then Lyrl Dox turns up, too, just to make the whole thing even more complicated.

Yeah, it's always that easy!
from R.E.B.E.L.S. #18 (art by Claude St. Aubin & Scott Hanna)

This is another well-done story that constantly escalates, to the extent that Dox has to bring in his old comrade Lobo, leading to my favorite moment in the whole book, where Lobo is capable of fighting a living neutron star with nothing other than a chain:
I like that not only is Lobo unbound by the laws of physics, obeying only the laws of narative badassery, but that both he and Pulsar Stargrave know it.
from R.E.B.E.L.S. #20 (art by Claude St. Aubin & Scott Hanna)

A little bit of Lobo goes a long way, and Bedard provides the perfect touch of Lobo here. It's another solid volume of R.E.B.E.L.S. even if, annoyingly, it is the last. The end of the series is even more annoying than it could be, because ending the series at four trade paperbacks leaves eight issues of the series uncollected, which I had to pick up as single issues. Just one more volume, DC, that's all it would have taken!

(A nit and a question: First, despite what this volume indicates, there's no way Maltus could be located in the Vega system. It was not a Vega planet in The Omega Men, and it being there would raise a number of issues in old stories. Second, has the Vega system finally been liberated since the events of the 2000s Omega Men series? There's no hint of Spider Guild domination in R.E.B.E.L.S. But if that's so, what do the Omega Men actually do? And it seems a bit disappointing that we never got to see the Omega Men's moment of triumph.)

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