17 July 2017

Review: R.E.B.E.L.S.: Strange Companions by Tony Bedard, Andy Clarke, Claude St. Aubin, Scott Hanna, et al.

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2010 (contents: 2009) 

Acquired August 2012
Read September 2016
R.E.B.E.L.S.: Strange Companions

Writer: Tony Bedard
Pencillers: Andy Clarke, Claude St. Aubin, Karl Moline, Derec Donovan, Kalman Andrasofszky
Inkers: Andy Clarke, Scott Hanna, Mark Pennington, Derec Donovan, Kalman Andrasofszky
Colorist: Jose Vilarrubia
Letterers: Steve Wands, Travis Lanham

I didn't like this as much as volume 1 of R.E.B.E.L.S., I suspect mostly just because it collects less. The Coming of Starro contained six issues that functioned as a near-complete story, though they were obviously setting up for something bigger, but Strange Companions collects three issues of the regular series plus an annual that lays out backstory for Starro the Conqueror and some of his minions.

I don't know how this would all read to a L.E.G.I.O.N./R.E.B.E.L.S. novice, but as an experienced reader, I dug both the continuity and the humorous take on it.
from R.E.B.E.L.S. #8 (art by Andy Clarke)

What's here is good, though. Vril Dox tries to recruit the strange Gil'dishpan (last seen in Invasion! invading the Earth) to his side against Starro, only to run afoul of their xenophobia. He also goes after his son Lyrl, last seen as the villain in the previous R.E.B.E.L.S. series, but now a harmless teenager. (I was glad to see that writer Tony Bedard ignored the idea Tom Peyer introduced in his run on R.E.B.E.L.S., that after Stealth raped Dox and bore his son they fell in love-- their relationship here is referred to in purely biological terms.) Meanwhile, the Omega Men are recruited by one of their old enemies, the Psions, and Dox adds Captain Comet and Adam Strange to his team. A nice, big space adventure is unfolding; it's just that three issues means it doesn't get to unfold very much.

The highlight of this book so far is the big, weird team Dox has assembled:
Smiling Kanjar Ro is so amazing.
from R.E.B.E.L.S. #9 (art by Claude St. Aubin & Scott Hanna)

That's Garv and Strata (silicon-based ex-L.E.G.I.O.N. cops) and their son Rocky; Wildstar (a Native American from outer space transformed into an energy being); Ciji (a shapeshifting Durlan in the form of a Khund child); Bounder (ex-L.E.G.I.O.N. cop who can transform into a stone ball); Amon Hakk (a Khund bounty hunter considered a failure by his people for his time in L.E.G.I.O.N. as a R.E.C.R.U.I.T.); Kanjar Ro (former alien dictator and long-time foe of the Justice League); Dox himself (son of Superman foe Brainiac); Captain Comet (evolutionary throw-forward from Earth who was once head of L.E.G.I.O.N. himself as well as an independent P.I. on Hardcore Station); and Adam Strange (human protector of the planet New Rann). Not pictured is the former Dominator Fleet Admiral of the Xylon Expanse, who has rededicated the R.E.B.E.L.S. as his caste. It's a mismatched group of misfits, which is exactly the sort of groups I like reading space adventure comics about. Hopefully Tony Bedard can manage the sprawling cast size!

I dunno why I find it creepy... but I really do.
from R.E.B.E.L.S. Annual #1 (art by Kalman Andrasofszky)

The annual featuring the backstory of Starro and his minions was decent. There are some quite complicated backstories for minions who I suspect won't amount to much; what was nice was finally understanding how the humanoid Starro in R.E.B.E.L.S. relates to the giant starfish form we've seen menace the Justice League time and again. The giant starfish versions creep me out a lot. I'm a little disappointed they're not the "real" Starro. Supposedly star conquerors have attacked the Earth three times before; I wonder which specific Starro stories Bedard is counting in continuity? The references are very vague. The only one I've read is the Grant Morrison JLA story where the Justice League needs help from Dream of the Endless to defeat Starro.

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