Friday, April 3, 2009

In Search of Tony Bedard

Here on my blog, I've given Tony Bedard a lot of flack. A lot of this guff came from his run on Exiles. While I'm starting to suspect that a lot of that ire was misplaced, likely belonging to Chuck Austen who preceded him on the book, much of his mainstream work has been (in this writer's humble opinion) lackluster at best.

One issue on the Outsiders was enough to send me packing. His run on Birds of Prey had a similar result. Awhile back, I began polling my friends to see if they could suggest any good work by Bedard. The only answer I received, from Jim Shelley, was to look into the Negation series from now-defunct Crossgen. The series started off co-written by Mark Waid, so I wasn't positive if he was riding on Waid's coattails, or if the book was entertaining on it's own merits.

Then R.E.B.E.L.S. was announced. I considered picking up the first issue from DCBS, due to a hefty 75% discount... but saw that Tony Bedard was the writer and decided against it. It's not money, but why buy something you're not likely to enjoy, right? Imagine my surprise when several folks whose judgment I trust recommend that I look into the book. So when I found myself placing an order from an online comics retailer, I added the first and second issues.

I'm glad I did.

I'm glad I did for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the story is fun and unexpected. I don't know much about Vril Dox and L.E.G.I.O.N. but I picked up enough from the Rann/Thanagar war to get the gist. It's an early attempt to create something like the Legion of Super-Heroes in the present, headed by the ancestor of Brainiac 5. However, run by the pragmatic Vril Dox, it has set itself up as a police-force-for-hire. The gist of this book is that someone has managed to usurp Dox's organization and is using it to conquer the worlds it was hired to protect. And of course, Vril Dox is eagerly wanted by whoever's now in charge. Dox is contacted (in a rather amusing and in-character method) by his counterpart in the 31st century. Brainiac 5 is concerned with his own existence, and tries to help guide Dox through this crisis. However, the way Vril Dox interprets Brainiac 5's advice is amusing to say the least. The tone is generally light, and fun... which is something that is frequently missing from modern comics. And the two issues I've read thus-far have been genuinely amusing.

I'm also glad because, as much delight as I seem to take in poking at Tony Bedard, I really wanted to see a good example of his work. For all the complaining and grief, I credit Bedard with two of the laugh-out-loud funniest issues I've ever read, both from his Exiles run. (See "Mission Impossible" and "Rube Goldberg", two examples of hysterical super-hero comics.) But nobody wants to read bad comics. Well, with the possible exception of Chris Sims and his insane love of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose. (I'm still waiting to see his Tarot/Anita Blake fan-fiction.) I wanted to read something good by Tony Bedard in order to lay off of the guy. I have, and so I will.

The fact of the matter is that I'm now pre-ordering the rest of R.E.B.E.L.S. I look forward to getting the third issue.