I’m half-surprised DC hasn’t decided to change the title of “R.E.B.E.L.S.” back into “L.E.G.I.O.N.” these days. Once the takeover of the L.E.G.I.O.N. was vanquished, the title of “R.E.B.E.L.S.” was no longer quite so accurate. And more importantly, I wonder if it’s going to scare off readers.
For now, “R.E.B.E.L.S.” is about Vril Dox rebuilding his peace-keeping empire, and turning into another outer space heroics title. That’s not automatically a bad thing, of course; Marvel’s little cosmic space corner of titles proved that you can leave the planet Earth as a setting and still have fun. So in “R.E.B.E.L.S.” Tony Bedard is bringing in all sorts of characters and alien races; already on the board were Adam Strange and the Rannians, plus Starfire, Blackfire, and the Tamaranians. Bedard throws in even more this issue, and it’s certainly fun to see him playing with all of these different groups, although at the same time considering how large space is, it’s hard to swallow all of them just happening to be tied into the same story.
The one big downside to this, though, is that Bedard does all this by sacrificing some of his other characters. Aside from Dox, Captain Comet, and Adam Strange, the rest of the cast that “R.E.B.E.L.S.” built up over the course of a year barely appear here. Bedard’s too busy bringing in and using other characters that it makes me wonder if characters like Wildstar, Amon, and company are about to be pushed into the background from now on. Vril Dox is absolutely the star, but the loss of the supporting cast makes “R.E.B.E.L.S.” a book that threatens to grow dull.
Sergio Arino’s pencils are all right, even as inker Scott Hanna continues to add his own touches to try and smooth the gap between original artist Andy Clarke and everyone that has followed. It’s a clean style, but it varies in terms of character on how well they look. Sometimes everyone feels fluid and natural, other times the poses are a little too artificial. There’s also a worrisome number of panels with no background save for Jose Villarrubia’s coloring; some of those are due to events taking place up in the air, but there are enough that aren’t that I hope this isn’t a trend. On the other hand, Kalman Andrasofszky’s cover this month looks like a rough sketch that was used in place of the finished art. Andrasofszky has done nice covers for “R.E.B.E.L.S.” in the past, but this one is going to scare readers away.
“R.E.B.E.L.S.” seems to be aiming to become a companion title to “Green Lantern Corps,” which is a smart idea but is lacking the actual marketing to draw those readers over, for the moment. If Bedard’s plan is going to work, someone needs to let readers know that the two are drawing closer together. Ugly covers and a misleading title certainly aren’t going to help matters. “R.E.B.E.L.S.” could survive, but it’s going to need a better PR campaign behind it.