“R.E.B.E.L.S.” is an odd book, and by that I don’t just mean that it’s managed to survive two years despite an ungainly name. Rather, it’s a book that seems to be reinventing itself on almost a monthly basis, and while overall it’s still an enjoyable book, it does start to make you wonder at times if it’s ever going to settle down.
For instance, the latest issue of “R.E.B.E.L.S.” wraps up part of the current story about L.E.G.I.O.N. and the Green Lantern Corps each trying to lay claim to protection of the Vega Sector. Vril Dox and John Stewart end up in a careful balancing act, each trying to get the upper hand from the other while keeping an eye on the other. It’s not a bad idea for a story, and watching Dox and Stewart negotiate is actually a funny set of scenes.
On the other hand, I can’t be the only person who’s grown tired of Tony Bedard’s two rookie Green Lanterns assigned to the Vega Sector, and watching them get the spotlight while most of the cast of the book (Starfire, Wildstar, Captain Comet, Amon Hakk, and so on) are relegated to just standing in the background of one panel without a single line of dialogue. In a team book you can’t always give every character something to do, but watching them get pushed further out of the picture with each new issue is frustrating. (It’s also slightly mystifying; Why was Starfire removed from “Justice League of America” if her purpose in “R.E.B.E.L.S.” was to do almost nothing.)
It doesn’t help that Claude St. Aubin and Scott Hanna’s art seems slightly off this month. A lot of it still looks good (like the line-up of L.E.G.I.O.N. personnel early on), or the arrival of some nasty new faces on the Psion planet. But every now and then, you get something strange like John Stewart’s massive forehead (seriously, it’s huge). It’s not bad art, but St. Aubin and Hanna normally draw something more energetic and interesting. This feels a little lackluster for this art team.
It’s the last few pages of “R.E.B.E.L.S.” that make me think we’ll start getting something more interesting before long. Finding out Dox’s new secret weapon, or the plans of the invaders of Psion, both point towards a good next story. And, with any luck, some of the other characters in the title will get to do something in it. For now, it’s just average quality; for an issue of “R.E.B.E.L.S.” I must admit I expect a bit more. Here’s to a return to form next month.