This is one of those series that I tend to forget about, but when I read an issue I think to myself, “yeah, this is better than I remember it.” Maybe it’s improved over recent months, or maybe Tony Bedard has built a strong enough playground with these characters and settings that he’s actually able to have some fun and do some tricks, or maybe its just that it seems so far removed from the core stories of the DCU — I don’t know, but I do know that “R.E.B.E.L.S.” is a step above the average mainstream superhero fare, and it gets little recognition. It’s largely ignored.
It shouldn’t be.
For one thing, Andy Clarke is back on the art, and while Claude St. Aubin and Scott Hanna did a surprisingly close pastiche to Clarke’s textured work, Clarke is simply one of the best superhero artists in the business right now. He’s doing the kind of stuff the Steve McNiven gets major points for — “Old Man Logan” has a bit more crosshatching, but Clarke is working in a similar style as McNiven here — and yet he’s working on out-of-the-company-spotlight comics like “R.E.B.E.L.S.” I’m glad to see him on this series. But he’s a superstar in the making, and it won’t be long before he ends up with higher-profile assignments.
Enjoy him on “R.E.B.E.L.S.” while he lasts.
And issue #10 solves one of the problems this series has had — its “Blackest Night” connection brings it in collision with the mainline DCU titles, and it’s no longer this odd little space series that seemingly has no connection with what’s going on elsewhere. Now, not only does Vril Dox’s team of misfits have to face the Starro onslaught, but they have to worry about their loved ones coming back as Black Lanterns and smacking them around.
Just a momentary digression here: the retcon of Starro the Conqueror into a humanoid warlord who leads a battalion of space starfish? Well, that’s foolish. There’s no reason that you have to put a human face on the Starro mythos. (Did I just type, “Starro mythos”? Indeed, I did.) Starro doesn’t have to be explained. He’s a giant space starfish with mind-control powers. Putting a humanoid leader behind the scenes just reeks of human-centrism. It’s the only time this series has stumbled in its first year.
But maybe the conclusion of the still-ongoing Starro saga will make it all worthwhile. If the team survives the Black Lanterns — if Vril Dox can pull his team together.
And if he can use his yellow ring wisely. Yes, the protagonist of “R.E.B.E.L.S.” ends up as a member of the Sinestro Corps by the final page of this issue. And that should offer some interesting story possibilities. And with Clarke on art, you know it will look great.