By Tony Bedard (writer), Andy Clark (artist), Jose Villarrubia (colorist)

Okay, let me see a show of hands: How many of you have been taking advantage of DC’s “Blackest Night” ring promotion?  Me, I’ve been loving the hell out of it.  Reminds me of the days when I used to get excited over the toys that came in the bottoms of cereal boxes.  It’s an awesome bit of marketing and I’m only too happy to give DC my money for the chance to geek out and possess all of the rings (huh, what a greedy thing to say.  Shit, that would make me an Orange Lantern, wouldn’t it?)  Now let me ask you this: how many of you have been reading and enjoying the obligatory comics you have to buy in order to get those rings?  That experience for me has been less than successful, ever since I was tempted to use Doom Patrol #4 as toilet paper after reading it.  Frankly, I didn’t even bother reading Booster Gold and was tempted to throw out R.E.B.E.L.S., but I didn’t, and I am glad I didn’t because this turned out to be one hell of a good story!

Now you have to understand that I’ve never touched this comic before now.  I’m not familiar with the cast or the title’s continuity, and only came into this issue knowing that it had something to do with “Blackest Night”. That said, within three pages Bedard skillfully managed to get me up to speed on the story and its characters so that I never felt like I didn’t know what was happening.  Bedard seamlessly combines his ongoing plot about Starro the Conqueror with “Blackest Night” and gives them equal weight.  You read this issue and feel like Vril Dox and his team are in the middle of an especially nasty shitstorm that just took a turn for the worse.  Dox is a fascinating character and a delight to read; fans of the TV show “House” I think will find much to like in Dox, an equally genius bastard who’s not afraid to pursue some highly unorthodox methods in order to get what he wants.  Nowhere was this more apparent than in the final pages of the story, which genuinely shocked and impressed me even though I was a new reader.

As for Andy Clark, wow, where the hell did this guy come from, and why didn’t anyone tell me he’s such an excellent artist?  Clark’s style is clean and finely detailed and is an utter delight to look at on the page.  When it comes to comics, I appreciate anybody who can offer me something different, something I’ve never seen before, and Clark’s art falls into that category.  Although his backgrounds and environments are a bit sparse, he populates them with fully believable characters that do a solid job of carrying the story.

I’ve got to hand it to DC, this ring promotion of theirs is a complete success.  Want to know how I know this?  Because I’ve resolved to go back and buy the last nine issues of R.E.B.E.L.S., and after I’ve done that, I’m going to begin collecting this comic on a regular basis.

Grade:  B

-Tony Rakittke