Robot 6

Talking Comics with Tim: Tony Bedard

R.E.B.E.L.S. #3

R.E.B.E.L.S. #3

Tony Bedard is a writer I’ve interviewed several times regarding various projects over the years. I greatly enjoyed his work years ago with CrossGen and since then I’ve often viewed a project more favorably if I found his name was attached. So when I heard he had a new ongoing series for DC, R.E.B.E.L.S. (core concept: Vril Dox [Brainiac 2] recruits a team to regain control of his L.E.G.I.O.N. police force), I contacted him for an email interview. This Wednesday, April 15, marks the release of the third issue in the series. (A preview of the first issue is available from DC here.)

Tim O’Shea: The first issue opens with a reference from the Encyclopedia Galactica, a nod to past incarnations of Legion books (as well as the works of Isaac Asimov and Douglas Adams). When launching a new series that references the past but wants to make its own mark in the present (while telling tales from the future) how careful does a writer need to be in referencing the past with certain aspects while giving readers a fresh twist?

Tony Bedard: I want R.E.B.E.L.S. to be completely accessible to a new reader, and yet I want it to be loaded with references and “Easter eggs” for readers who are familiar with Legion lore. I guess the trick is not to make those bits essential to understanding the story. They’re in there as a bonus (and, yeah, the encyclopedia caption is a total homage to LSH stories of the past) but they’re not the point of the book. We’re just telling a fast and furious space saga, and everyone’s invited to join us.

O’Shea: As judged by the first two issues, you’re taking your time in building the team’s roster. Too often some series rush to get the whole cast set in the first issue or two, without allowing the creative team to experiment with the dynamics of characters. How did you come to the decision to set the pacing (in terms of cast building) as you have? Was there any editorial discussion or concerns on the pacing?

Bedard: From the start, I wanted to do a gradual building of the team so that we could get a chance to meet each character and get a sense of who they are. That structure also seemed to make sense since there’s a mystery for Vril Dox to unravel: the identity of his new foe. But I won’t take too long – the complete team is together by issue 4.

O’Shea: Many discussions about this book are quickly followed by a mention of your past fanbase built through the CrossGen Negation series. Some writers do well writing space adventures, while other series can falter once the characters leave the Earth, why do you think you are so successful in writing space adventures?

Bedard: Well, I know Negation worked because we had a real collaboration on the creative team. Penciler Paul Pelletier, inker Dave Meikis and colorists James Rochelle and Wil Quintana all contributed vital ideas and enthusiasm to the mix. It also helped that we got to build the book from the ground up. I later wrote a 6-issue stint on LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES that met with mixed reactions, but that was on a long-running book that people already have strong opinions about, and I wasn’t really supposed to change much before the new writer took over. So, not the best circumstances. Now, on R.E.B.E.L.S., I can essentially start from the beginning and go wherever I want, and the results are closer to what we had going on Negation. Most importantly, I’m working with Andy Clarke, an absolutely astounding artist who is going to be a major star in the industry.

O’Shea: How did you decide to incorporate the Omega Men in the story?

Bedard: That was actually suggested by editorial. We took a look at some of DC’s other cosmic characters to see who we could sweep up in our tale, and the Omega Men made sense. They have history with Vril Dox and they started out as cosmic freedom fighters, which fits the direction of our saga. Plus, they are just plain fun characters.

O’Shea: What are you enjoying most about the collaboration with Andy Clarke–can you point to a scene that you wrote that was improved beyond your initial intentions thanks to Clarke’s art?

Bedard: Almost every scene he draws comes back better than I envisioned it! Mostly it comes down to the wonderfully subtle expressions he gives people. The scene in Starhaven was one that surprised me with how well he brought that place to life. Loved the opening scene to issue #1, as well. I keep printouts of Andy’s pages that I show to friends and colleagues all the time…like baby pictures.

O’Shea: Is issue 2, Wildstar’s eyes are so seemingly wise and weary at the same time, was that a request you gave for Clarke is this something he added to the character?

Bedard: That’s a perfect example of the x-factor Andy brings to the book. When you write a script, you hope the artist will breathe that sort of life into the characters, but you’re not always sure. I have supreme confidence with Andy that he’ll deliver that level of subtlety and impact.

O’Shea: Am I correct in thinking this is the first series you’ve launched (from relative scratch) at DC? How daunting and/or exciting is that for you?

Bedard: I guess it is my first ongoing launch at DC (and hopefully not my last!). So far, I’ve either inherited books from madly talented people like Gail Simone and Mark Waid, or I’ve filled in for short stints on books where I couldn’t really make my mark. So this is a very welcome opportunity, as I feel like DC readers still haven’t seen my best work.

O’Shea: Issue 4 features art by Claude St. Aubin and Scott Hanna, will Andy be getting breaks every few issues or what is the long-term plan for the series (feel free to ignore this question, if you want)?

Bedard: Andy is a meticulous artist, but the downside of that is that he is not the fastest guy out there. That’s fine by me – I’ll wait for his work. But in the meantime we have a monthly book to put out, so in Claude we’ve found a penciler who can really do the book justice and maintain the high level of detail and expressiveness that Andy delivers. But let’s make no mistake, Andy is still our principal artist, and he’s on the book for the long haul. That said, Claude is no slouch, and he’s turning in the best work of his career.

O’Shea: I like your use of humor in the series–can you discuss some of your humor influences?

Bedard: I think a lot of it goes back to Mike Baron and his series Nexus and Badger – two of my all-time faves. They taught me that when you laugh with a character, they become real to you. I had a lot of humor in Negation, too, and a book like R.E.B.E.L.S. provides lots of opportunity for very grim humor, which is often the best kind.

O’Shea: Would you say trust (or a lack of it) is at the heart of this series?

Bedard: Hunh, there’s a thought. See, I don’t think anyone trusts Vril Dox for long. They’d be foolish to. And yet they’re counting on him to save the day. Maybe that’s what drives the book: that nobody trusts each other, and yet they are forced to rely on one another. It’s a situation rife with conflict and conflicted feelings.

O’Shea: Care to give a hint to readers of what surprises you have coming up in future issues?

Bedard: We’ll soon find out who the big baddie is who stole L.E.G.I.O.N. from Dox, and it’s much bigger than anything Dox expects. We’ll also check in with Dox’s son (the villain from the original R.E.B.E.L.S. series).

O’Shea: Who has been the most challenging character to write for you so far? I ask that, as I find in many instances the hardest “voice” to find ends up being one of the strongest cast members.

Bedard: I haven’t felt a great deal of difficulty yet, but the character I’m still looking for a voice for is Bounder, who shows up in issue #3. I’ll nail it down, once I have a moment to focus on him.

O’Shea: What do you think R.E.B.E.L.S. offers to potential readers?

Bedard: In an age dominated by crossovers and publishing events, DC offers a handful of books like Jonah Hex and Secret Six that stand on their own, driven by a heartfelt creative vision. I hope readers will find R.E.B.E.L.S. is like that, because it’s totally a labor of love for myself and Andy (and Claude!).

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Comments

12 Comments

Great piece, I’m enjoying REBELS loads, though I’ve never liked the Omega Men – they’re fan favourites ie not that popular.

REBELS is excellent.

Thom from Brandon FL

April 14, 2009 at 10:09 am

I’ve liked the series so far.

Thus far, REBELS has a distinctive orientation and atmosphere (which will hopefully continue), integrated with the DC Universe (guest-star appearances by Supergirl and Omega Men) while maintaining its own creative space outside the most “showcased” part of the mainstream. Along with the Green Lantern sub-line in DC, REBELS might be DC’s answer to Marvel’s cosmic line of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Nova”.

Vince Von Muhlhaeuser

April 14, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Well,this series is pretty good,when I picked up issue one it was just as good and mindblowing that when back in the Crossgen days I was picking up negation,with this series I truly feel Bedard’s touch and talent set loose.Also I am very Happy to see Andy Clarke doing the art,I always loved his art in 2000AD and I find that he got Vril Dox very very well,In short this is one of my favorite titles that currently comes out.I would also totally love that Tony Bedard and Jim”the man”Starlin to build DC’s cosmic corner up like DnA do for Marvel,I think Bedard and Starlin together could create some of the best cosmic universe if they worked together with DC’s background and characters.

I bought the book on a whim because of all of the fun I have been having with Abnett and Lanning on their space books and was immediately hooked by the tremendous art and the humorous, yet intelligent writing. Apparently, Bedard needs to be given more creative freedom and Clarke needs to be given an exclusive contract immediately.

The first 2 issues of REBELS have been nothing short of fantastic and exactly the kind of non-Green Lantern cosmic stuff that DC needs. More Bedard less Starlin.

I was super anticipating this comic and it completely hasn’t let me down even a little tiny bit! Can’t wait for the next issue! He writes Vril Dox amazingly and I’m loving the character designs~

Rebels is SO SO SO good, I cannot recommend it enough! I was turned into a bedard fan via his work on LOSH, which was really well written!! it gets a lot of flack but it really has a neat plot and he really writes dialogue and subtle characterization very well! He wrote Querl Dox so well that I was very excited to see his Vril Dox!

I’m also soooooo happy that he’s going to bring in Lyrl!! He hasn’t been touched upon in such long time! I want more people to read this!! DC needs more books like this!

I’m also enjoying this and it’s funny Tony also mentioned Jonah Hex and Secret Six as I also read those too and are part of their own little corner (Though SS is more intergrated, and I’d also throw Warlord in here). This books has alot of potential, I also hope that DC will put out SHOWCASE collections of the original LEGION series. It would be an inexpensive and accessible way for fans of REBELS to learn and enjoy the history of Vril Dox.

Ricardo Amaral

April 16, 2009 at 7:20 am

It would be nice to have Gerry Jones and some of the original voices of L.E.G.I.O.N. popping up ocasionally. Like Kevin Maguire and Keith Giffen on covers, for instance.

Ricardo, in the case of Gerard Jones, he is busy on other projects these days. In fact I interviewed him for my pop culture blog back in July of last year (http://talkingwithtim.com/wordpress/2008/07/09/gerard-jones-on-his-return-to-comedy/). For more current info on Jones’ work, visit his website: http://www.gerardjones.com/

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