NYCC '09 - Tony Bedard Talks R.E.B.E.L.S.

REBELS #1

On the convention floor in New York, one comic book writer was just a little more enthusiastic than the rest.

"This is the best thing I've worked on since CrossGen back in 2004," Tony Bedard said of his new series R.E.B.E.L.S. that begins this week.

His excitement was echoed by fans visiting his table as they flipped through an early preview of R.E.B.E.L.S. #1, praising the art by Andy Clarke and reacting to characters like Supergirl and Vril Dox within the pages. Bedard was beaming, sharing news of how DC is supporting the new comic with a R.E.B.E.L.S. event later this year.

Picking up on a concept created by Keith Giffen 20 years ago, R.E.B.E.L.S. takes place in the present and focuses on Vril Dox, the highly intelligent yet belligerent Brainiac 2. Bedard pitched the series to DC, having been a fan of the original concept and a fan of space opera in general.

Bedard, who received accolades for another cosmic series he created at CrossGen, Negation, is hoping readers give the new series a chance. We talked to Bedard as he signed comics for his fans at the DC booth to find out more about how the series is turning out.

Newsarama: We talked a little when this was series was first announced, but now that you're well into writing it and seeing the pages, how's it turning out?

Tony Bedard: I'm totally pleased. It's going to be a little gem. I think it's going to take people by surprise. People don't have a lot of expectations of this book. They're not that familiar with the characters. And a lot of the characters are new. But I think they'll be surprised by how this book has turned out.

I'm hoping people give it a chance. Especially with all the Legion of Super-Heroes stuff that's been happening in the DC Universe lately, especially in Geoff Johns' books. This is sort of Legion related without being a direct connection, so I'm hoping people at least give it a chance.

NRAMA: For people who may not have heard anything about it yet, what can you tell us about the story?

TB: Unlike Legion of Super-Heroes, which takes place in the 31st century, this takes place right now in the DCU. And it's like a revamp of this book called L.E.G.I.O.N. that came out back in '89 and through '95, I think. It's Brainiac 2, Vril Dox, who is the clone/quasi-son of the evil Brainiac. Only this is a good guy, in the worst way. He's a totally Machiavellian bastard. People drop dead around him all the time, but as long as he gets his job done, that's all he cares about. And generally, he does the right thing.

He has this interstellar police force for hire, so everything he does, he makes a tidy profit on. After awhile, he got tired of everyone in his police force questioning his orders, so he fired all his live operatives. Now he has this army of robots out there doing all the police work.

At the beginning of this series, we find out Vril Dox has been kicked out of his own organization – somebody took it over and turned all his peacekeeper robots into an army of occupation. Now he has to go back so he can free all the people he was supposed to be protecting. He has to put together a new team.

So that's what this is all about in the first issue. It's him gathering his new teammates and also figuring out who the mysterious villain is that took over his organization.

NRAMA: Does it take place throughout the DC Universe? This preview looks like it's mostly on Earth.

TB: Yeah. We start on Earth, and we have Supergirl appearing in the first two issues. And then the mystery unravels as he goes back into space to get his new team together and take back what's his. And of course things aren't going to turn out the way he thinks. Things will blow up in his face. And it all becomes a much bigger story.

And that's one of the reasons I'm so excited about this is when Dan DiDio read the first issue, he actually called me up in the middle of the day and said, "Oh my God! I just read the preview issue! This thing really works. You really nailed this character!" And of course it was just about the best phone call I'd gotten in six months. And then he started getting excited about it. He said, "I want to build this into an event later in the year and really make it have an impact in the universe."

So DC is really behind this book, and we're putting together something really big coming out of this. So if you think it starts kind of small, just stick around. There's a lot to look forward to.

NRAMA: Once Vril Dox puts together his new group, what's the team dynamic like?

TB: Well, that's the great things about this book. There's a lot of back-biting and scheming. You know, you have something like Star Trek or the Green Lantern Corps, and you know who the good guys are and they do the right thing and everything. This isn't that kind of book. This is more like Firefly or Farscape, where people are always sort of not sure they can trust each other. And everybody's got their own agenda. And people are dropping like flies left and right. It's that kind of book.

NRAMA: Looking at this preview copy, the art by Andy Clarke really stands out. What can you tell us about the artist?

TB: Andy Clarke is the best thing that's happened to me since I got married, probably. He is something else. He's probably a lot more famous in England where he used to do Judge Dredd and 2000 AD. I don't think he's as well-known here, but he will be, because it looks like a cross between Kevin Maguire and Travis Charest, and a little Frank Quitely in there. I mean, really serious talents. The guy's a perfectionist and I just love him.

NRAMA: Anything else you want to tell people about R.E.B.E.L.S.?

TB: Just give it a chance. Pick it up. If you read the first issue, you're going to come back for the next one. It's fast-moving, fun and wicked, in the best way.

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