Comic Book Review: R.E.B.E.L.S. #2

The Revolution thought R.E.B.E.L.S. #1 was a fun read and a solid debut issue. Bedard surprised me by showing no interest in quickly assembling the roster for this team. That is a curious decision and I hope that Bedard does not take too long in getting the members of this team onto the roster. I am confident that R.E.B.E.L.S. #2 should be another quality read. Let’s go ahead and do this review for R.E.B.E.L.S. #2.

Creative Team
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Andy Clarke

Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Getorix, Amon Hakk and Skwaul in Getorix’s ship. They have the South Pole Station in their target. Skwaul sees the red cross on the side of the facility and says that he will not attack a house of worship. Getorix answers that the red cross denotes the South Pole Station as a medical facility. Amon makes fun of Skwaul’s morals.

The villains start blasting the South Pole Station which prompts Supergirl to grab the unconscious Vril Dox and fly away from the station. The bounty hunters chase after the heroes. We cut to Vril Dox’s mind where he is having a discussion with Brainiac 5. Vril states that he has no patience for programs masquerading as people.

Brainiac 5 admits that he is a data-construct. A facsimile of his creator the real Brainiac 5. However, the data-construct still possesses Brainiac 5’s full cognitive acumen which means he has a twelfth-level intellect.

Brainiac 5 says that he is here to warn Vril that there are no history files in the 31st century that mention Vril beyond this point in history. Brainiac 5 says that Vril must survive in order for Brainiac 5 to exist. Brainiac 5 says that it is imperative that Vril assemble allies. Fortunately, Brainiac 5 has the instruction manual for assembling a team. Brainiac 5 presents Vril with the complete personnel files of the Legion of Super Heroes. Brainiac 5 tells Vril to follow this template to maximize his chances of success.

Brainiac 5 continues that the enemy who took over L.E.G.I.O.N. is an enemy who is an order of magnitude that Vril has never faced before. Vril tells Brainiac 5 to stop calling him “Brainiac 2.” Vril then asks Brainiac 5 to tell him who usurped Vril’s command of L.E.G.I.O.N. Brainiac 5 responds that Vril has access to every Legionnaire’s origin, powers and enemies which is enough information for Vril to assemble his own Legion.

Brainiac 5 continues that all of the information is read-only so that Vril will not be able to share this knowledge of the future with anyone else. Brainiac 5 says that Vril already has Supergirl to be a member of his Legion and now he can gather more members. That maybe this will help Vril survive.

We cut back to Supergirl holding the unconscious Vril and flying through the air as Getorix’s ship is hot on her tail. Vril regains consciousness. Suddenly, Tribulus punches the crap out of Supergirl. Vril tells Supergirl to keep Tribulus occupied. Getorix, Amon and Skwaul then exit their ship and engage Vril. Skwaul uses his mind powers to immobilize Vril.

Amon goes to place cuffs on Vril. Vril sneers out Amon and says that Amon was once one of L.E.G.I.O.N.’s best and brightest. Vril asks what happened. Amon responds that Vril happened. That Vril ruined Amon’s life like everything else that Vril touches. Vril then notes that Amon’s model of arm cannon had a defect. That if you cracked the zip-coil it overloads. Vril kicks Amon’s arm cannon’s zip-coil and causes it to overload.

Vril starts running toward Getorix who has his back turned to Vril. Amon powers up his arm cannon and fires a shot at Vril. Vril ducks and the cannon blast nails Getorix in the back. Getorix falls to the ground. Since Getorix is out, his mental control over Tribulus disappears. This causes Tribulus to stop attacking Supergirl and to chase after Amon and Skwaul.

Vril pulls out the small mind plug out of Getorix’s neck that allowed Getorix to control Tribulus. Vril tells Supergirl to push the plug into the base of Vril’s neck. Supergirl does so and Vril then gains mental control over Tribulus. Vril then asks Supergirl to forgive him. Vril orders Tribulus to take out Supergirl. Tribulus blasts Supergirl with his mental lightning. Vril and Tribulus then climb into Getorix’ ship and take off.

We see Brainiac 5 appearing in the ship. Vril mumbles that it is annoying how Brainiac 5 can externalize himself. Brainiac 5 yells at Vril for betraying his first recruit in Supergirl. Vril quips that Tribulus is his first recruit. Vril continues that the Legion files had information on the Fatal Five and a being of unparalleled strength in Validus. Vril says that Tribulus is the type of unquestioning and unmerciful power that he wants on his side.

Vril says that Supergirl would never have let Vril abscond with Tribulus in his control. Vril continues that the Brainiac 5 construct has overstayed his welcome. Vril says that he will use the Legion of Super Hero files to build his team, but that he will do it his way. Vril tells the Brainiac 5 construct to deactivate itself.

We cut to the Rann Nebula where the Omega Men’s ship is located. Vril’s ship appears on the scene. Vril contacts the Omega Men and asks Tigorr for their help. Tigorr comments how Silica, Vril’s computer, put a price on Vril’s head. Tigorr gloats how Vril finally got outsmarted. Vril says that he needs Elu’s help. Vril says that Elu is a living cosmic storm and he could help Vril storm his old headquarters and help Vril gain control over his robotic peacekeepers.

Elu counters that maybe that the Omega Men will raid Vril’s headquarters on their own, liberate Vril’s robotic peacekeepers and then sell them back to Vril. Vril poses as Getorix and calls the L.E.G.I.O.N. border patrol and asks for immediate back-up in the Rann Nebula. Vril then tells Tigorr that the L.E.G.I.O.N. will be here in 3.7 seconds and that the Omega Men better run for Oa. Tigorr curses Vril. Vril tells the Omega Men “You should have said yes.”

The L.E.G.I.O.N. ship appears and orders the Omega Men to prepare to be boarded. Tigorr tells Vril that this is not over between them. Vril agrees. Vril says that it ends with Vril’s authority restored and the Omega Men in jail. Vril then sets course for Starhaven. (Dawnstar’s people.)

We shift to Vril arriving at Starhaven and meeting with the Chief Night Sky. We learn that 700 years ago, Athranian gene farmers abducted the Anasazi tribe from Earth. Soon after, Athrania fell to the Spider Guild. Athrania’s experimental colony, Starhaven, was lost to history. The people of Starhaven thrived and the genetic alterations the Athranians gave the Anasazi led to spectacular results.

Vril compliments Chief Night Sky on how incredible his people are and how amazing their culture is. Vril says that he is here to learn the new glories that their tribe will one day manifest. Vril says that the people of Starhaven have latent talents waiting to emerge. That one day the people of Starhaven will be able to soar from star to star faster than the speed of light. That the people of Starhaven will become the greatest trackers capable of sensing their prey on other worlds.

A crippled woman with small stubby wings steps forward and shouts that she told them that she could feel starships flying by their planet. She yells that none of them believed her. Chief Night Sky says that the woman is named Wildstar and that she is crazy. That the woman claims to feel ships passing by Starhaven and that she always knows exactly where everyone is on Starhaven.

Vril says that Wildstar may possess the latent talents that he was talking about. Vril asks Chief Night Sky for permission to take Wildstar to his ship to perform tests on her. Chief Night Sky tells Vril to take her if Vril thinks he can cure her. Chief Night Sky tells Vril to meet with him tomorrow to tell him what Vril learns from his tests.

Vril and Wildstar walk to Vril’s ship. Wildstar states that she can sense the monster that Vril is keeping in the ship. Wildstar says that she will not tell anyone. Wildstar says that the others on Starhaven do not like her and cannot bear to look at her with her small stumpy wings. Vril asks what if he can give Wildstar new wings. Vril asks what Wildstar would do for that. Wildstar answers that she would do anything for that.

They enter the ship. Wildstar says that she has nothing to return for Vril’s gift. Vril answers that Wildstar’s tracking power would be useful. Vril says that if Wildstar agrees to serve him then he will fix her. Wildstar answers that if Vril gives her new wings then she is his. Wildstar stares at a containment suit hanging in Vril’s lab. Vril stands behind Wildstar with what looks like a energy cannon in his hands. Vril says “I was hoping you’d say that.”

Commentary

The Good: R.E.B.E.L.S. #2 was another good read. Bedard continues to deliver an entertaining story that is well balanced. The reader gets a good mix of action and adventure as well as good character work. This issue moves quickly and has a nice flow to it. Bedard is delivering a well plotted read as everything is unfolding itself in a methodical fashion.

I like that the framing of R.E.B.E.L.S. mimics the parent title of Legion of Super Heroes. These framing techniques also help to make R.E.B.E.L.S. #2 a bit more new reader friendly. Bedard uses the computer entries from the Encyclopedia Galactica in order to give the reader some background information on the different planets in this issue. This is a classic feature that we have gotten for decades over in the Legion of Super Heroes.

Bedard also employs the same literary tool of a small text box that gives the codename, homeworld and planet for each character in this issue when they first make their appearance in the issue. This is another tool that was employed over in the now defunct Legion of Super Heroes title.

Bedard crafts some solid dialogue. The character work is also better than average. Of course, at this point, the only character that has gotten much character work as been Vril since he has been practically the sole focus of Bedard’s attention over the first two issues. Now, admittedly, Vril is an easy character to write due to his dick-ish personality.

Still, Bedard handles Vril’s character in fine fashion. Bedard never goes over the top with Vril’s personality. And every time that Vril acts like a “dick” there is a clear reason for him doing so. I love Vril’s Machiavellian personality. The ends always justify the means with Vril.

Bedard has succeeded in making Vril such an engrossing character. Bedard gets the reader to be fascinated with Vril while still being completely unsure if Vril is a hero or a villain. And that is how I like Vril. Bedard needs to keep this character in the grey area of the moral spectrum.

I liked how effective and efficient Vril was in dealing with Getorix, Amon and Skwaul. And since I have never been a fan of Supergirl, I must admit that I completely enjoyed how Vril punked out Supergirl in this scene. The way that Vril is able to bark out commands and get people to act before thinking like he did with getting Supergirl to place the telepathic plug into his neck is great and spot on with Vril’s personality. This scene also shows to readers who are unfamiliar with Vril that he is quite a formidable person to deal with despite any flashy offensive super powers.

I enjoyed the scene between Vril and Brainiac 5. Of course, since I am a long-time Legion of Super Heroes fan, this scene was tailor made with readers like me in mind. I liked how Brainiac keeps calling Vril Brainiac 2 and how much it irritated Vril. That was a nice touch by Bedard. The banter between Vril and Brainiac 4 was perfect.

And, it is of no surprise at all, given my bias, that I loved the idea of using the Legion of Super Heroes personnel files to help Vril recruit his new team. This move by Bedard nicely establishes a strong connection between R.E.B.E.L.S. and the Legion of Super Heroes.

I am enjoying seeing the various connections between the characters that appear in R.E.B.E.L.S. and the characters from the Legion of Super Heroes. In this issue, we see Skwaul who is clearly similar to the Legionnaire Tellus. Tellus is from a water planet called Hykraius. Skwaul is from the planet Hepvestus which, judging by the fact that the name is similar to Hesphestus, must be a fire planet. Bedard is clearly having fun trying to establish connections between R.E.B.E.L.S. and the Legion of Super Heroes.

I also enjoyed visiting Dawnstar’s people on Starhaven. Bedard gave a nice and concise origin of Dawnstar’s people. And I enjoyed learning how their tracking powers first manifested themselves. I like that Bedard is giving up the history and some back-story on the people and cultures from the Legion’s era.

I like the addition of Tribulus to the team. This character provides the necessary amount of muscle and is a powerhouse that all super teams need to have on their roster. Tribulus also acts to serve as a constant reminder of Vril’s controlling and duplicitous nature. Now, I thought that Elu was going to be the next member of the team and that Elu would act as Vril’s version of Wildfire. And I also thought that the containment suit at the end of the issue was designed for Elu in mind.

However, the final scene to this issue makes it clear that the containment suit will be used by Wildstar as it appears that Vril is going to blast Wildstar with some strange energy cannon. Bedard ends R.E.B.E.L.S. #2 with an excellent hook ending. Vril is so menacing. Wildstar is so desperate. The fact that Vril would reduce a person to a shapeless mass of energy is chilling and only emphasizes Vril’s ruthless nature.

This ending also explains Wildstar’s name. It is a combination of Wildfire (hence the containment suit and a body of energy) with Dawnstar (and her valuable tracking ability) into one character in Wildstar.

Andy Clarke provides plenty of nice artwork for this issue. I like Clarke’s clean style of artwork. Clarke certainly does well with the cosmic setting of this title.

The Bad: R.E.B.E.L.S. #2 might be too decompressed for some readers. Some readers will be irritated that at the end of the second issue of this title that we have only managed to see Vril add two members to this team. It is certainly taking quite some time to assemble the roster for the R.E.B.E.L.S. Bedard has drug his feet long enough and needs to get this team together quickly. Bedard has created a nice mission statement for this team and a good source of conflict as we see Vril attempting to take back control of L.E.G.I.O.N. But, the fact remains that the reader will get bored quickly if Bedard does not get this team in place and up and running soon.

It is also imperative that the roster be assembled quickly so that Bedard can begin to shine the spotlight on someone other than Vril. I love Vril’s character, but this is a team title and it is important that we get some panel time and character work on characters other than Vril.

Overall: I enjoyed R.E.B.E.L.S. #2. Bedard has an interesting concept set up for this team and I like the characters that we have seen so far. Of course, I have to openly point out that I am biased. As a die-hard Legion of Super Heroes fan, much of this title appeals to me due to my love for the Legion. And since my beloved Legion lost their own monthly title, I am starving for anything even remotely related to the Legion.

I do think that R.E.B.E.L.S. has plenty of potential. However, at this moment I would be hesitant to recommend R.E.B.E.L.S. to anyone outside of Legion of Super Heroes fans and L.E.G.I.O.O.N. fans. Having said that, if you do enjoy cosmic themed comic books like Guardians of the Galaxy and Green Lantern Corps then you might want to give R.E.B.E.L.S. #2 a try.

1 Comments

  1. I’m with you on this one – I’m enjoying R.E.B.E.L.S. enormously. Bedard is doing a good job hinting at legion continuity and giving us glimpses of history which to me as a long time legion fan is great fun.

    As someone who grew up with single story issues, I generally find long story arcs a bit tedious but actually I don’t mind this one at all. Let’s hope the title has a decent run.

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