08 September 2017

The End of R.E.B.E.L.S. (2009-11): To Be a R.E.B.E.L. and Starstruck

It ought to be a crime that DC stopped collecting Tony Bedard's 2009-11 revival of R.E.B.E.L.S. with only eight issues to go. One more trade paperback would have sufficed to get the whole series in book form. It's a particular shame because this was probably the best DC space-based ongoing since L.E.G.I.O.N.-- it has its flaws (mostly too many characters that didn't get enough focus), but it certainly outdid both The Darkstars and the original R.E.B.E.L.S.

There is a sense here that the book is on its way out, though. Issues #21-23 are To Be a R.E.B.E.L., a story bringing Vril Dox's reestablished L.E.G.I.O.N. into conflict with the Green Lantern Corps. With Green Lanterns featuring prominently in the stories and on the covers, it feels like an attempt to cash in on how popular the Green Lantern Corps was at the time under Geoff Johns-- which surely wouldn't be needed if R.E.B.E.L.S. had been doing fine on its own. But Tony Bedard and Claude St. Aubin make the most of this mandate (if mandate this was): the two Green Lanterns are a Psion and an Okaaran, both Vegan species from the old Omega Men series, and using them allows for some new perspectives on the Vega system (L.E.G.I.O.N.'s new home base), and a decent role for Starfire.

The last five issues constitute Starstruck (numbered "Part 1," "Part 2," "Part 3," "Part 3," and "Conclusion"), which brings back series nemesis Starro the Conqueror for one last confrontation. Compared to the previous Dox/Starro clashes we've seen, this one feels much less epic, as Starro never controls more than the Psion homeworld and Ranagar, and it also seems rushed. One assumes Bedard knew his time was up and brought back the series's big bad for a finale (it was indicated when Starro was originally defeated that he would indeed be back), but didn't have enough issues to make it as exciting as he wanted. (It also hurts that with #24, the issues go from 22 pages to 20.)

It's not without its moments, however. Lobo using a clothespin to stop himself from being seduced via scent is great, as is how Lobo eventually defeats Starro's sub-boss, Smite. The Psion plan is a pretty incredible one, though there's something seeded with it that will never be followed up on, given that shortly after this was published, the DC universe was rebooted in Flashpoint. It's always fun to see Dox be Dox, but he probably gets the fewest good moments of the whole series in this storyline. Previously, Bedard and company balanced action and character well, but this climax tilts a little bit too much to action, and the solution to the Starro menace is surprisingly simple. Though I obviously wish it had been collected, this is only an adequate end to R.E.B.E.L.S.

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