Tony Bedard, writer of DC Comics’ R.E.B.E.L.S. in on a mission - he must make comic fans read his series. Having passed the initial six issue arc of the series, Bedard is now taking his readership farther into the deepest reaches of space for more hard-hitting, less-than-scrupulous space misadventures featuring Vril Dox and his motley band of miscreants. With the threat of Starro the Conqueror raging throughout the galaxy, Dox continues to defy his programmed mission of assembling a modern equivalent to The Legion of Superheroes by gathering an antithetical group of rebels.
Newsarama spoke with Bedard about the current direction of R.E.B.E.L.S. and the return of a few familiar faces for fans of the "cosmic" corner of the DC Universe , some good and some not so good.
Newsarama: Tony, the first 6 issue arc of R.E.B.E.L.S. has just concluded; it appears that Starro isn't going anywhere any time soon, is he?
Tony Bedard: Starro's our ongoing villain, but the entire conflict just continues to get bigger and more complex. So does Dox's team, for that matter. We'll learn Starro's origin in the R.E.B.E.L.S. ANNUAL coming out in October. November and December we'll see the Starro invasion run up against the Blackest Night. And there's still more big stuff planned for the beginning of 2010!
Nrama: How is Vril Dox going to even the odds in his fight with Starro? Or are things going to continue to get worse before they get better?
Bedard: Dox has just contained the Starro Invasion inside a vast invisible force field. That buys him some time to search for Starro's weakness — if he has any. Dox would focus on the key to Starro's strength: his psychic domination of the starfish race; but, whether or not he can affect that link, remains to be seen. In the meantime, he's trapped in there with Starro, and as the invasion claims more worlds, Dox is running out of places to hide.
Nrama: Let's talk about upcoming issues, are Dox and his crew going to be "looking for love in all the wrong places" in terms of seeking out allies?
Bedard: Well, they'll certainly keep trying to add to their numbers. They have an encounter with the escaped Dominator Admiral next issue, and they'll also ask for help from such luminaries as Despero, Kanjar Ro, Adam Strange, Captain Comet and others. As you might expect, he'll have mixed results, but we'll also have fun on the undersea world of the seldom-seen Gil'Dishpan, among the weirdest aliens in the DCU.
Nrama: How will all the various races of aliens conquered by Starro fit into the next leg of your story?
Bedard: Every army or world he conquers just adds to Starro's power, since he draws his personal strength directly from the trillions under his thrall. It's like his control over the universe just keeps snowballing. In the case of the Dominator Admiral, he's just watched his empire fall, and for all he knows he's the last free Dominator. He'll become an ongoing character. We'll also see the personal impact on Kanjar Ro when his world is targeted, and the impact on the Gil'Dishpan is not to be missed!
Nrama: How does issue #7 start off the next arc of storytelling? Is this a semi-contained story with an over arc or is this the next leg of something larger?
Bedard: I'd say it's semi-contained. It's actually an issue I'm very proud of. For starters, Andy Clarke is back on pencils and inks, and he does an amazing job of conveying the scope and strangeness of the DCU. The issue has some really fun, warped stuff in it, and it's a good jumping-on point, too.
Nrama: Issue #8 sees the return of the Omega Men; have you re-tooled them with the intention of exploring them more beyond the pages of R.E.B.E.L.S.?
Bedard: If the chance ever came up to do an Omega Men series, I'd jump at it, but the Omegans have always been the B-Plot in R.E.B.E.L.S. Their role is a vital one, and they'll show us a lot about where Starro came from and who he is, but their whole arc will pay off around issue #12 or so.
Nrama: What else can readers expect as you build up toward issue #12? Should they stay focused on any characters in particular?
Bedard: We have a massive cast, and I keep trying to move the spotlight around and give everyone a focus issue, or at least a moment. Amon Hakk has emerged as the comic relief, Wildstar is the ingénue, Strata is the voice of reason, Tribulus is a force of nature and Ciji is a mystery. But at the end of the day, this book belongs to Vril Dox, the son of Brainiac and the biggest jerk you'll ever love. If this series accomplishes nothing else, I want to establish Dox as a force to be reckoned with. He's kind of like Batman and Lex Luthor combined, and he's the most funnest character to write.
Nrama: Have you made plans for the Vril Dox and his squad beyond the first year? Do you have a grand scheme lined up?
Bedard: After the first year, I'd like to deal with reestablishing L.E.G.I.O.N., which will be in competition with the Green Lantern Corps in the aftermath of Blackest Night. I think we could have great fun with that, and give readers a cohesive cosmic corner of the DCU that exceeds the great cosmic work they've done at Marvel lately. I mean, Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps are already the best cosmic comics around, and I think R.E.B.E.L.S. rounds out that whole scene with a very different vibe.
Nrama: Can readers expect anymore wild card additions to the R.E.B.E.L.S. line up?
Bedard: Yeah, the team will keep getting bigger, though i don't want to nail down the exact membership.
Nrama: Are any classic L.E.G.I.O.N. villains going to be showing up in the near future?
Bedard: Actually, yes — in as much as there are any "classic" L.E.G.I.O.N. villains. We'll see the return of Ig'nea and her fellow "L.E.G.I.O.N.s of Super-Villains" in issue #10, which also marks the return of a very important L.E.G.I.O.N. member in the worst way possible. What's more, we'll have Dox's son Lyrl showing up in issue #7. Lyrl, of course, was once a villain in the series, and now we'll see the least heart-warming father-son reunion in comics' history.
Nrama: In six words or less, give old L.E.G.I.O.N. fans and other fans of sci-fi who are not hooked on R.E.B.E.L.S. yet a reason to check out the book.
Bedard: Vril Dox (Brainiac 2) is Superbad!