Not everyone enjoys being a brainiac. On the other hand, writer Tony Bedard not only seems to be having a good time with it, but with his current arc on DC Comics’ space-based title “R.E.B.E.L.S,” he gets to be the voice of three Brainiacs.
Originally a 1990s spinoff of sorts from the Keith Giffen, Bill Mantlo and Todd McFarlane created “L.E.G.I.O.N” series, the current ongoing title by Bedard continues in the intergalactic footsteps of its predecessor by following the adventures of the son of the original Brainiac Vril Dox and his unique team of peace-keeping rebels. The current arc, which wraps up with next month’s issue #20, pitted Vril against his family’s dirtiest laundry – the infamous Superman villain Brainiac – all while attempting to stop his own son from destroying their home planet of Colu. October’s issue #21 begins a new arc wherein Bedard will answer the question of how “To Be a R.E.B.E.L.” The upcoming storyline not only brings in the main man Lobo as an official team member but it also incorporates the Green Lanterns Corps, whose eponymously titled series Bedard also pens. Bedard spoke with CBR News about the battle of the brains in the title’s current arc, bringing the ultimate rebel without a cause Lobo to the team and what about writing the final frontier he loves.
“‘R.E.B.E.L.S.’ has been one of the best gigs I’ve ever had,” Bedard exlaimed to CBR News. “It’s a book I wanted to do since I started writing for DC, and I’m grateful I was given the opportunity.Â I was a big fan of the originalÂ ‘L.E.G.I.O.N.’ series and of Vril Dox in particular, so it’s been a joy to play up the non-Green Lantern cosmic characters in the DC Universe.”Â
Bedard further admitted to wanting to take a crack at a Brainiac-related character for some time. The writer first discovered the super-smart super villain as a child while watching the 1960s Filmation Superman cartoon – back when the character looked for knowledge but should have quested for a much-needed pair of pants. “This was the old-school, bare-legged Brainiac, and it freaked me out when Superman couldn’t punch through his invisible force field.Â But the current update of Brainiac is the best version yet,” he said. “He’s a villain of the first order – the worst mass-murderer in the history of the Milky Way.Â He’s on a quest for knowledge, but once he acquires it he kills whoever he stole it from because he won’t share with anyone.Â He’s freaking scary.”
Conversely, the villain’s son Vril Dox seems much more stable, despite his own megalomania. And like many children, Vril certainly doesn’t want to grow up and become his dad. “Vril Dox, a.k.a. Brainiac 2, is on a personal quest to counterbalance all the harm his father has done.Â He’s less concerned with doing what’s right than he is with erasing the stain of Brainiac from his family name,” explained Bedard.Â “But he’s also a crappy father, so his son Lyrl, aka Brainiac 3, has his own vendetta against Vril.Â Lyrl is kind of tragic because he was born with his 12th-Level Intelligence in full effect.Â He never had the chance to develop the judgment and personal character that tempers our actions, so that terrible intellect led Lyrl to take over L.E.G.I.O.N. and attempt to kill his father.Â All this when he was still in diapers.Â With a start like that, Lyrl is pretty much destined for trouble.”
To counter the massive amount of brain on hand, Bedard is bringing in the brawn with issue #20. “I’ve wanted Lobo on the team from the start, because he was one of my favorite things from the original ‘L.E.G.I.O.N.’ series, but other plans for the character meant I had to wait,” revealed the writer. “Lobo’s the perfect counterpoint to Dox: brawn versus brains.Â The first time he worked with Dox, it was because Dox had tricked him into a promise of service.Â Now, he’s back because he’s in cosmic-sized debt and Dox is waving a paycheck at him. But having Lobo on your team is like having a tiger by the tail.”
Bedard edited the old monthly “Lobo” series previously, which allowed for a little familiarity with the character. The writer said he sees the character as virtually pure Id, with no real moral conscious to keep him in check. However, Bedard does believe there is a strange purity to the character that he finds appealing as a writer. As mentioned, the character becomes a new member of the team moving forward and Bedard told us he really looks forward to exploring how the other team members react to the force of nature presence of the character, beginning in the title’s next arc “To Be a R.E.B.E.L.” which features the Green Lantern Corps.
“This story arc will see the Vega Sector’s rookie lanterns either earn their badges or get drummed out of the corps,” said Bedard. “It also sets up a battle for the hearts and minds of the galaxy as Vril Dox puts out the viewpoint that the Green Lantern Corps are unwanted interlopers, imposing the laws of Oa upon the universe. It’s a sort of State’s Rights versus Big Government argument, but it proves persuasive to more people than the Guardians of the Universe would like.”
Although the two teams share certain similarities in that they both are law enforcement agencies, Bedard said there are certain fundamental differences between the ring-slinging Corps and Vril’s group that puts them in direct opposition, especially when the question of jurisdiction comes into play. “It makes sense that we should define the relationship between L.E.G.I.O.N. and the Green Lantern Corps, since they both carry out similar functions, but in completely different ways. L.E.G.I.O.N. is justice-for-profit. They’re the Blackwater of outer space, whereas the Green Lanterns are a more altruistic operation,” he explained.Â “Also, most of the action in ‘R.E.B.E.L.S.’ is centered on the Vega Sector, which was recently reopened to the Green Lantern Corps, so a confrontation between these two sides is sort of inevitable.”
“I think the Green Lantern view of L.E.G.I.O.N. is a pretty dim one, mostly because the guy leading L.E.G.I.O.N. is all but a villain himself,” Bedard added. “Dox’s crew, on the other hand, is composed of vastly different personalities, so they all have their own take. Adam Strange has a much more positive view of the Green Lanterns than does Amon Hakk, the Khund mercenary.”
Bedard also plans to explore those “vastly different personalities” of Vril’s crew in upcoming issues, with the writer hinting that sometimes, opposing personalities actually attract. “R.E.B.E.L.S. has a sprawling cast meant to reflect the endless variety of races populating the DC Universe,” he said. “I have big developments in mind for planet Rann, which was recently zeta-beamed into the Vega System.Â This impacts on the life of Adam Strange, Starfire and her evil sister Darkfire, who is a more complex character than her sister thinks. And I want to explore some romantic possibilities among the cast.”
Although the October-launching arc does feature the Green Lantern Corps, Bedard admitted that he doesn’t have any real crossover plans between the two titles at the moment despite scripting them both. However, he teased that both series would be playing a part in DC’s next cosmic-level event – something Bedard greatly looks forward to as a fan of everything space-based.
“I’ve always loved science fiction.Â I remember the moon landings from when I was a toddler, and that was probably the start of it.Â I loved ‘Ultraman’ and ‘Star Trek’ as a kid.Â Then came ‘Star Wars’ when I was 10, and that was all she wrote,” said Bedard.Â “I actually wanted to be an astronaut when I went to college, but I quickly realized what I liked better was telling stories about the final frontier.Â Space does offer limitless possibilities, and you can play with the physics, too.”
“R.E.B.E.L.S” issues #20 hits stores Sept 1 with issue #21 following a month later on October 6.