R.E.B.E.L.S.: The Son and the Stars

December 27, 2010

So everything is moving along nicely for this hugely entertaining series — among the better ones to emerge for DC in a while — and what happens? You get a crossover event. If you ever need one reason why comic universe crises shouldn’t affect every single character at any time at the same time, this is it. DC’s almost megalomaniacal wish for harmonisation throws a box of spanners into a plot machinery that has otherwise been churning along smoothly.

Do we really need Vril Dox to go out of character and turn into a Yellow Lantern in order to battle Black Lanterns? Whatever happened to Level 10 intelligence? Black Lanterns, as you may already know from the annoyingly omnipresent Blackest NIght event this season, are one crazy mess of major or minor has-beens, heroes as well as villains, resurrected from the grave to raise Hell for all. But don’t we already have zombies in this series — you know, the starro-controlled ones from which the R.E.B.E.L.S. are trying to save their various dependent worlds? It is thus no wonder that even our heros here behave like children with limited attention for unplanned-for playmates. Zombies versus zombies is too confusing when the last 10 chapters have been spent precisely to hype the threat posed by just one species.

Until now, I didn’t think that a Sinestro Corpsman could ever look uncool, but Vril in yellow? At least writer Tony Bedard is able to find a way to shrug off this narrative burden quickly and reconfigure his story back to what he originally intended. You could practically side-step the whole Black Lantern episode — and would miss nothing! But, upon return, something in the momentum is lost; the surprising regeneration of the previously decapitated Despero helps to kick a bit of life back. The art of Andy Clarke, Claude St. Aubin, and Scott Hanna has also turned hasty: the strangely elegant dots have given way to more conventional shading strokes here, and I am a little saddened. To be sure, the overall look is still there, but the uniqueness is slipping.

The epic Starro narrative arc comes to its end after a number of quick twists here; on that level, there is some amount of satisfaction. Unlike the previous volumes though, this collection feels rushed and loose with just the right number of punches to get the job done. Lyrl Dox’s return to intellectual form and initiation as Brainiac 3 — a family name Vril rejects — are still great moments that prepare us for future Freudian feuds between father and son. As entertaining is how the seemingly extravagant adventures of the Omega Men finally fit into the dilemma faced by Vril and his rag bag of associates. Wait for it, and, when that moment happens, perhaps you are able to contrast the effectiveness of Bedard’s planned absurdity and the careless Blackest Night intrusion DC demands.

Gweek senses a frustrated 7 Level intellect behind this volume.

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