Comic Book Review: R.E.B.E.L.S. #11

The Revolution loved the last issue of REBELS. It was by far and away one of the best Blackest Night tie-in issues that we have gotten up to this point. Bedard delivers the blueprint on how to effectively do a big event tie-in issue that actually augments the story on the title rather than interrupting the story on the title. I am confident that Bedard will deliver another quality read with REBELS #11. Let’s go ahead and do this review.

Writer: Tony Bedard
Pencils: Claude St. Aubin
Inks: Scott Hanna

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin Sinestro’s message for all Sinestro Corpsmen to report to Korugar appearing on Vril’s yellow power ring. Vril brushes off the message and turns it off. Vril continues to battle with Black Lantern Stealth. Vril uses his power ring to blast zombie Stealth to pieces. Vril then tells Adam Strange and Captain Comet to teleport the rest of the REBELS to the planet below. Hakk stays behind and mans the ship’s self-repair system.

Vril then realizes that no matter what he does to Black Lantern Stealth, she simply re-grows her damaged body. Black Lantern Harbringer continues to battle the other three Sinestro Corps members.

Vril blasts the Black Lanterns and tells the other three Sinestro Corpsmen to come planet side with him while the two Black Lanterns try and heal themselves. We learn that the three Sinestro Corpsmen are brand new members. One of them recognizes Vril Dox and is duly impressed with Vril’s reputation and standing in the galaxy.

We cut planet side and see our heroes regrouping and deciding their next move. Adam Strange says that he has received a message from Barry Allen about the Black Lanterns. Adam then relays the same message from Barry about the Black Lantern’s weaknesses, that they feed off emotion and how they operate in general that we read back in Blackest Night #4 and in countless other tie-in issues.

Suddenly, Black Lanterns Harbringer and Stealth appear on the scene and attack out heroes. A large brawl ensues.

We cut to Starro’s headquarters on Maltus. We see Brainiac 3 putting the finishing touches on a transmatter portal. This is a device that Brainiac 3’s father, Vril, failed to successfully build. With this device, every corner of the universe will be just a few steps away from Starro. And no force field or barrier will be able to block the transmatter portal.

Starro tells Brainiac 3 to open the transmatter portal onto planet Voorl, (Where the Black Lanterns killed some of Starro’s elite guard members) so that he may see what has transpired. When Brainiac 3 does so, the Black Lantern versions of Starro’s elite guard step through the portal. The Black Lanterns attack Starro and Brainiac 3.

We hop back to the planet where the REBELS, Strange and Captain Comet are battling the Black Lanterns. Suddenly, a teleportation gate opens up and Lyrl, Starro and the Black Lanterns come spilling out of it. We now have a huge brawl.

During the brawl, Starro realizes that his starros cannot control the Black Lanterns since they have no minds and are puppets to some unknown entity. Starro wonders who the Black Lanterns work for.

Lyrl asks his father for help. Vril believes that Lyrl is asking Vril to help save Lyrl from Starro. Lyrl spits that Vril misunderstands. Lyrl says that he does not want Vril to remove the Starro from him. Lyrl is asking Vril to help save Starro.

Lyrl and Vril then team up and combine their intelligence to modify Adam Strange’s light based weapons and has them powered by Wildstar. The result is a light blast that can hurt the Black Lanterns. Unfortunately, the light ray is not strong enough to kill the Black Lanterns.

Black Lantern Stealth grabs Lyrl by the neck and threatens to kill him. Vril cries out “Lyrl.” Lyrl angrily growls that he told his father that his name was now “Brainiac 3” not “Lyrl.”

In a rare display of emotion, Vril is hurt and angered by Lyrl’s words. Vril says that if Lyrl wants to forsake his father for Starro then so be it. Vril uses his yellow power ring to create a giant shovel that scoops up Starro, Lyrl and all the Black Lanterns and pushes them back through the portal. Vril then destroys the portal. Vril then collapses to his knees in shock over what he has just done.

Vril’s teammates are aghast that Vril would basically condemn his son to a death sentence by trapping him with the Black Lanterns. Before Vril can respond he screams in pain. His yellow power ring then plays Sinestro’s command for all Sinestro Corpsmen to report to Korugar. Vril refuses. The yellow power ring then flies off Vril’s hand and says that Vril has been discharged from the Sinestro Corps due to insubordination. The yellow power ring flies off for a suitable replacement.


Vril then says that Lyrl’s involvement with Starro has made this battle personal. Vril says that his son has chosen that monster (Starro) over his own flesh and blood. Vril says that if Starro survives the Black Lanterns that Starro will not survive him. End of issue.

Commentary
The Good: REBELS #11 was another excellent read. Bedard continues to impress me with his ability to take the normally redundant and predictable Blackest Night tie-in issues and utilize Blackest Night to actually augment and progress his own plotlines on REBELS.

The plotting continues to be top notch. Bedard is introducing several entertaining plot wrinkles with each issue. The plotlines grow in an organic fashion as Bedard logically builds off the previous issues. Bedard has a good vision for this title and it is obvious that he is progressing the story with a clear purpose in mind. REBELS never feels haphazardly plotted like many of the comics currently on the market.

Bedard moves REBELS #11 along at a lively pace. The pacing in this issue is brisk mainly due to the large amount of action that we get in this issue. REBELS #11 is probably the most action packed issue that Bedard has given us so far on this young title. Action fans are sure to love the brawling that we get between our heroes, Starro and the Black Lanterns. Particularly enjoyable was watching Vril wield the yellow power ring.

Bedard’s use of the Black Lanterns as an unexpected monkey wrench in Starro’s plans for conquest was perfectly played. Up until now, Starro’s efforts have been relatively unimpeded as our heroes had been force to play more defense than offense.

It was nice to see Starro actually struggle for the first time since he has appeared on the scene. A strong villain is important, but if he never struggles at all then the story begins to lose some interest. It was wise to show even the mighty Starro struggling to deal with the attack of the Black Lanterns.

Bedard also uses the injection of the Black Lanterns to ratchet up the intensity of the conflict between Vril and Starro. The resolution to the brawl with the Black Lanterns also leads into a more complex and emotional feud between Brainiac 2 and Brainiac 3.

This leads me to my next point. Bedard uses REBELS #11 to pull off some excellent character work on Vril and Lyrl. Bedard shows the reader Lyrl’s newfound loyalty to Starro even over his own father. The reader also gets a glimpse at Brainiac 3’s ambition and cunning. After reading this issue, the reader has no doubts at all that Lyrl is more than a match for his father, Vril.

This was a brilliant plot wrinkle by Bedard. For the first ten issues, Bedard has made a point of emphasizing how no one else in the universe can match Vril in terms of intelligence, cunning and strategy. Until now. Bedard demonstrates that Lyrl is more than capable of going toe-to-toe with his father.

Lyrl’s addition to Starro’s forces also addresses the one deficiency that Starro had in his elite guard. While Starro had raw power to spare, he simply could not match the genius of Vril which has been allowing the REBELS to stay one step ahead of Starro.

I loved the climactic scene where Lyrl spits that his name is not Lyrl, but Brainiac 3. This was the seminal moment in this relationship between father and son. The son completely rejects the father in favor of a surrogate father. Vril’s response was surprising. Up until now, Bedard has given us a Machiavellian Vril Dox who is always in control of both his emotions and the situation no matter what he is faced with.

However, in this scene we see Vril react with the furious anger of a father spurned. The reader then gets a rare glimpse at actual weakness in Vril’s character. For a couple of panels we see Vril as close as we ever will to him displaying the emotions of sadness, remorse and loss.

Bedard shows many sides to Vril’s character in this issue. Vril’s response to Sinestro’s call for all Sinestro Corpsmen to assemble on Korugar was perfect. Not even Sinestro is important enough to rate much attention from Vril. This moment emphasized with newer readers who picked this up just because it was a Blackest Night issue the fact that Vril clearly views himself to be without equal.

However, as entertaining as Vril’s ego may be, we have seen this before on this title. What I particularly enjoyed was Bedard giving the reader a glimpse into Vril’s other emotions. We see Vril shining both green with willpower and violet with love.

This was a certainly a side of Vril that is not often examined. It was nice to see Vril actually displaying love for his own son. A little moment of weakness from Vril near the end of this issue was appreciated. It was also necessary to keep Vril from being simply too one-dimensional of a character.

Bedard ends REBELS #11 with a great emotional ending that has a nice impact on the reader. After a moment of weakness, Vril recovers and returns to form and delivers a pretty ballsy response to his teammates questioning him about basically condemning his son to a death sentence by trapping him with a bunch of Black Lanterns. I am more excited than I was before about this looming showdown between Vril and Starro. This story is only getting hotter.

REBELS #11 boasts some nice artwork. Claude St. Aubin and Scott Hanna combine to deliver a good looking issue. St. Aubin is as comfortable at drawing high energy action scenes as he is dialogue heavy emotional scenes. St. Aubin pulls off some great facial expressions which helps to add plenty of life to Bedard’s script.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: REBELS #11 was another good read and a highly enjoyable Blackest Night tie-in issue. Hopefully, Bedard was able to capture new readers with these two Blackest Night tie-in issues. REBELS #11 treated the reader to some quality action scenes as well as some well crafted dialogue. The story on this title just keeps getting stronger. I would highly recommend REBELS to any Sci-Fi fans.
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Rokk

2 Comments

  1. Great review! And thank you for this. God knows this title needs as much attention as it can get. This is one of DC's best titles that just gets less than its fair share of readers.

    Best,
    Kozmik.

  2. Excellent review as always.

    This definately is on of the best books DC is putting out right now.

    I see this book playing a huge role in the DCU in 2010. Considering the fact that coming out of Blackest Night the devasation of the Green Lantern Corps could leave a power void in galactic law enforcement that Vril Dox could take advantage of, and the possiblity of this book crossing over with JLA and "War of Supermen," this could be a big year for REBELS.

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