Comic Book Review: R.E.B.E.L.S. #4

The Revolution has enjoyed the first three issues of REBELS. Bedard is satisfying my Legion fix with what is quite a well crafted read. This title has quickly grabbed my interest and is rapidly rising up to the top as one of my favorite DC titles. I am confident that REBELS #4 will be another entertaining read. Let’s go ahead and do this review for REBELS #4.

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

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

Synopsis: We begin at The Slab, a prison designed to hold extra-terrestrial criminals, where Amon Hakk, Getorix and Skwaul are being held. The Khund military then arrive to collect Amon, Getorix and Skwaul.

The Captain of the Khund military warship is a teenage girl named Ciji. Amon mocks the fact that the Khunds are being captained by a teenage girl. Ciji’s arm then turns into a giant tentacle with spikes and impales Skwaul and kills him. We learn that Ciji is a Durlan.

Ciji then tells Amon and Getorix that she is looking for Vril Dox. Ciji says that Getorix used a governor chip to control Tribulus. And that they can track the governor chip. Ciji says that where they find Tribulus they will find Dox. Ciji asks for the chip’s frequency or else she will have to get nasty.

We cut to Cairn where Dox is meeting with Strata, Bounder and Wildstar. Dox states that he has been given certain information which has been written onto his brain in a format that he cannot verbalize. Dox says that it is important that they save the worlds that are now under the heel of the corrupt LEGION. Dox says that those worlds trusted him and that he is responsible for them.

Dox says that he needs both Wildstar and Strata to help him. Strata retorts “And Bounder.” You need Bounder, too.” We cut to the heroes walking to Dox’s ship. Strata mumbles that she cannot believe that Dox actually said “Please.”

We shift to Maltus where we see that the planet has been taken over by Starro and his army of small Starro parasites. We see the Omega Men squared off against a pale dark haired woman who is now under the control of a Starro star. The woman says that the Starros are a gift to her world. That Maltus will now never know war, famine or fear.

The Omega Men immediately attack the woman. The woman easily shrugs off the attacks from Darkstar and Broot. The Omega Men then decide that a quick escape would be the best idea. The Omega Men head for the drone-ship. The Omega Men are disheartened to see that a mob of Starro controlled citizens have demolished the drone-ship which was their only means of escape from Maltus.

We cut to Dominion, the homeworld of the Dominators. The Dominators are investigating a subspace rift that has mysteriously appeared in the Xylon Expanse. Evidently, it is a stable wormhole leading to another galaxy. The wormhole does not appear to be a natural phenomenon. The Dominators do not feel that the wormhole is the doing of the Khunds, the Durlans or the Okaarans. The Dominators have discovered that whatever is harming Maltus arrived through the wormhole.

The Dominator Emperor commands that his admiral find out the origin of the wormhole, what happened to Vril Dox and the identity of the person now controlling LEGION. The Emperor feels that whoever bested Dox is a mortal threat to the Dominators.

We zip back to Maltus where the Omega Men are now surrounded by Starro controlled citizens. The giant Starro in the sky keeps dropping the small Starros on top of the Omega Men. The Omega Men break into a building of one of the Maltus media companies. The Omega Men head to the main broadcasts rooms where the Maltusians send out system wide broadcasts. The plan is for the Omega Men to send out a distress signal across the system.

We shift to Dox’s ship. Strata asks Dox how he found her. Dox replies that he kept a crystal that chipped off of Strata during her active duty days. That Wildstar was able to use the crystal’s “scent” to then track down Strata. Strata stammers “You kept a piece of me?” Dox replies “This bothers you?” Strata retorts “What if I saved your toenail clippings?”

Wildstar then interrupts and informs Dox that they are coming up on Maltus. Wildstar says that she does not sense any vessels and yet there are plenty of vessels up ahead on orbit around Maltus. Dox tells Wildstar to get back inside of the ship. Dox says that his ship is invisible to the Maltusians’ instruments. Dox then begins to monitor Maltus’ communications channels. Suddenly, Dox picks up the Omega Men’s distress signal.

The Omega Men state that Starro has taken over all of Maltus. The Omega Men beg for anyone who hears this to transmatter them out of here or get a lock on their coordinates for an airlift. Dox turns off the Omega Men’s signal. Strata yells that they have to go save the Omega Men. Dox replies that Maltus is already lost and that going down there to get the Omega Men would be suicide. Strata replies that not going down there would be murder.

Dox replies that the Omega Men are as good as dead. That they just do not know it yet. Suddenly, a warship appears next to Dox’s ship and connects a tube between the two vessels. Captain Ciji radios Dox’s ship and introduces herself and tells our heroes to be prepared to be boarded.

We slide back to Maltus where the Omega Men realize that no one is going to come to save them. Therefore, the Omega Men decide to go down fighting. The Omega Men begin battling the horde of Starros. Just as the Omega Men are about to get overwhelmed, we suddenly see them getting transported away from the scene.

We cut to the Omega Men appearing in the transporter room of a vessel full of Psions. The Psions are the super-scientists of Maltus. The Omega Men do not trust the Psions and accuse the Psions of wanting to use them for another one of their insane experiments. The Psions state that they mean the Omega Men no harm. The Psions continue that they need the Omega Men to stop a horde of attackers.

The Psions point to the video screen where we see a bunch of warships and super powered aliens under the control of Starro. They are flying out of the wormhole in the Xylon Expanse. The Psions state that the Omega Men already faced one of these attackers in the pale dark haired woman on Maltus. That the Omega Men lacked the power to stop her. The Psions continue that the woman was just one of thousands of other similarly powered attackers from the beyond. End of issue.

Commentary
The Good: REBELS #4 was another excellent read. Bedard has truly surprised me with his sustained effort on this title. I never imagined that REBELS was going to be this good of a read. And even though I found the first couple of issues to be great reads, I still was expecting this title to drop off in terms of quality. Shame on me for doubting Bedard. In fact, not only has REBELS not declined since the strong first issue, REBELS has actually gotten even better with each issue.

REBELS #4 was a well paced issue. Bedard never allows the story to lag nor does he ever rush the story. The wild action scenes on Maltus were nicely balanced with the dialogue heavy scenes with the Dox and his teammates. The scenes on Maltus succeeded in giving this issue an appropriately chaotic feel of all hell breaking loose.

REBELS #4 was a soundly plotted issue. Bedard keeps the story moving forward with a clear purpose in mind. Bedard takes the basic plotlines from the first two issues and continues to grow them and allow them to naturally evolve in much more intriguing plotlines. Bedard continually adds layer after layer to the story. The result is that with each issue, the story becomes more complex and the reader has more questions than before.

With this issue, Bedard is beginning to pull in various alien factions from across the cosmic side of the DCU. Like a mad scientist, Bedard adds the Durlans, the Khunds, the Dominators, the Psions and the Starros into the concoction that he is brewing in this story. This is a wise move by Bedard since the inclusion of all these different factions gives this cosmic story more texture and a grand scope.

The new plot wrinkle involving Ciji was an interesting and unexpected twist. Ciji is an unusual character and I am curious to learn more about her and how she fits into the larger framework of this story. The sudden appearance of Ciji’s ship next to Dox’s vessel was a nice hook ending to this plotline. It should be interesting to see how our heroes get themselves out of this dicey situation.

The addition of the Dominators to the mix was a good move. The Dominators are classic Legion villains so I am glad to see Bedard working them into the story. I also like the new plotline involving the wormhole in the Xylon Expanse and all of the super powered alien invaders pouring out from the wormhole. This new development combined with the attack of the Starros certainly cranks up the intensity of this story several notches.

Bedard is presenting our heroes with incredibly powerful foes who should be tough to defeat. Bedard is able to create what appears to be a hopeless situation for our heroes. This was a great hook ending as the Omega Men go from one seemingly impossible situation to another.

Bedard is juggling quite a large cast of characters with this story. I love the Omega Men so I am glad to see them getting more and more panel time with each issue. I would be quite pleased if Bedard pulled the trigger on a Legion of Super Heroes sized roster for REBELS as opposed to the relatively small roster than the original LEGION had. Bedard certainly proved during his run on the Legion of Super Heroes that he has the necessary writing chops to handle a large roster of characters.

Bedard cranks out plenty of fantastic dialogue. Bedard’s dialogue has a pleasant flow that quickly pulls the reader into the story. The banter between the characters is natural and never feels forced. Bedard has a nice sense of humor and is able to work in some funny moments in a natural fashion. Dox’s reaction to Strata being upset about him keeping a crystal from her was spot on. This was a nice little bit of comic relief that fit in seamlessly with story and was consistent with the personalities of the characters involved.

Bedard continues to pull off some excellent character work. Dox still received a disproportionate amount of the character work, but that is acceptable since he is the lead character. Having said that, Bedard is working on fleshing out Wildstar and Strata. Both characters continue to display more unique personalities with this issue. And as Bedard is focusing a bit more on developing the other members of REBELS, we are beginning to see some nice chemistry emerge between the teammates.

Still, make no mistake; Dox continues to be the star of the show. I love how Bedard writes Dox’s character. Bedard understands that Dox is not evil. That Dox is simply an incredibly amoral and pragmatic person. Dox’s reaction to the Omega Men’s plea for help re-enforces to the reader how practical he is in his decision making process.

Of course, Bedard wisely shows that Dox is not an unfeeling and shallow person. Bedard has Dox passionately argue for Strata to join him in his effort to take back control of LEGION. Dox emphatically states that he the planets protected by LEGION trusted Dox and that he swore to protect them and that he owes it to them to save them from the now corrupt LEGION. This scene showed the reader that Dox may be Machiavellian in how he operates, but that he is a hero. And this is exactly the type of hero that I enjoy the most. Dox is proof that just because a character is a hero does not mean that they have to be a touchy feely PC person.

It is great to have Strata back. Strata is a good character who acts as the necessary moral balance to Dox. I look forward to many more explosive scenes between Dox and Strata in the upcoming issues.

Claude St. Aubin and Scott Hanna combine to deliver a beautiful looking issue. I will admit complete ignorance of Claude St. Aubin prior to reading REBELS #4. All I can say is wow, have I been missing out on some great artwork. St. Aubin impressed me with his incredibly detailed artwork in this issue. St. Aubin handles action scenes as nicely as he does dialogue heavy scenes. St. Aubin draws great facial expressions which helps to bring Bedard’s story to life.

The Bad: One only potential problem that I see on the horizon is that this title could quickly de-evolve into the Vril Dox show rather than a team title focusing on the REBELS. It is imperative that Bedard continue to increase the panel time for the other characters and to perform plenty of character work on them so that the other members of REBELS become more than just background props.

Overall: REBELS #4 was another fine read. Bedard is crafting one of DC’s more entertaining titles. REBELS is different from most of DC’s other titles and focuses completely on the cosmic corner of the DCU. I cannot recommend REBELS enough. This is a well crafted title that is well worth the cover price. If you like Sci-Fi action then you will certainly enjoy REBELS. And if you like stories with interesting characters and good dialogue then you will probably like REBELS as well. Definitely give REBELS a chance. This is a title that truly deserves strong fan support unlike most of the titles that regularly dominate the top ten of the monthly sales charts.

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3 Comments

  1. I think Bedard is doing a better job examining the scope of the DC cosmic universe than Starlin is doing with Strange Adventures I feel it is so important that DC turns up its A-game on its cosmic characters and stories, now that Marvel is certainly giving incredible focus to its own cosmic universe through the War of Kings storyline. Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps have been mainstays for DC cosmic stories, but I think with R.E.B.E.L.S. and hopefully (on my part) an ongoing Captain Comet series penned by Starlin, there will be even better stories to come.

  2. Thank god they acctually gave Vril Dox, R.E.B.E.L.S. and Hopefully in the future, L.E.G.I.O.N. to someone as competent as Tony Berard. I wasn’t so pleased with the art of St. Aubin. I found some spots where he really was sloppy, and I can just hope that DC don’t start doing the samething they did with Legion v5, where they did a rotation of artists that got me livid.

  3. If anyone is interested, I made a petition so that DiDio (or the powers that be) lets Bedard use Lobo in the series. Anyone who also feels that way, please sign.

    http://www.gopetition.com/online/27938/sign.html

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