BRAIN TRUST: Following Monkeybrain Comics, Episode 2

Edison Rex 1-12 – An Overview
by Brad Gischia

Written by Chris Roberson
Art by Dennis Culver
Colored by Stephen Downer
Lettering by John J. Hill
Released by Monkeybrain Comics

*Limited Spoilers

I often bemoan my proximity to a comic shop. This week I understand that it could actually be a blessing in disguise. If I were in the vicinity of a pull box with my name on it I’m certain as to what titles would be in there. Lots of DC and Marvel staples, with little room for new stuff. I would fill it certainly, but I’m wary of taking a chance on things. What if it sucks? What if I’m so let down that I curse my misspent youth and passion for comics? (So…that last was a little dramatic…give me a break it’s Monday.) But really I am certain that it would be full every week and the space given to things I’ve never read or are just coming out would be limited.

As a reviewer, I’m given the opportunity to read things I normally wouldn’t. And with that said, I offer Brain Trust #2…the first twelve issues of Edison Rex.

Chris Roberson has taken the concept of the anti-hero and literally made him the hero. Don’t look for a dark and brooding character, puzzling out the rights and wrongs and goods and bads of a situation. Edison Rex is a super-genius, that hallmark of evildoers. (Funny how many villains are super smart and how many heroes are super punchy.) Roberson puts it on Front Street. In the first issue we see the truth behind Rex and his nemesis Valiant, a truth that is really at the core of every madman and real life villain out there. Rex thinks he’s right. And in the case of Valiant, he is right enough to convince the hero to sacrifice himself for the greater good. It is this fact that, and the parting words of his greatest foe, that impress upon Rex the need for his own change, that from villain to hero. “This world is your responsibility now…” are Valiant’s last words, and they make an impression on Edison Rex, worlds former most brilliant villain.

It really is as easy as that. With Valiant vanquished Edison Rex knows that he is the only one who can keep an eye on the Earth and protect it from any who may challenge. Now comes the obvious PR problem, one that is a constant secondary battle throughout the next eleven issues. This is one of the genius elements or Roberson’s storytelling. What are the problems with switching sides? Your friends are now your enemies, everyone is confused as to your intentions, and even the people in your organization aren’t quite sure whom you’re batting for. Rex’s number two; M’Alizz (an energy-sword wielding powerhouse and all around badass) keeps asking if it wouldn’t be easier to just conquer the world.

Issue 2 adds the “Rexfiles” onto the end of each issue. It’s a character log much like I grew up reading in the “Marvel Universe” yearbooks, one that shows a picture of the character and runs through their basic back story and powers. At the end of Issue 4 there is an awesome “ad” mimicking the Hostess Fruit Pies ads that used to run in comics in the 80’s and 90’s. I loved both of these throwbacks, and it just shows Roberson’s long-standing love of comics.

Several issues are dedicated to the development of a team to back Edison, and he does this in the best way possible. Along with the recruitment of a super-computer and a larval bee creature, he hires out his staff from a competing criminal organization with the clever inclusion of a good benefits package. There is also a two comic arc that runs through a parallel world and multiple Rex’s, including Platypus Rex. (Any watchers of Phineas and Ferb will think of Perry all grown up.)

Issue 8 seemed like an episode of Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond, the relationship between Eclipse II and Eclipse a highlight of the comic. It was completely enjoyable and worked perfectly well, and Dennis Culver’s art was spot on. I have not forgotten the importance of the artist in the creation of a good comic, but have chosen to wait until this moment because in Issue 9 we meet Rofl, an interdimensional animated puppet that can shape reality. This issue, from an artist’s perspective alone, looking like it was intensely fun to work on. Edison Rex is held in-between dimensions and Rofl puts him into different realities. We see a Manga Rex and what I can only describe as a Rob Liefeld Edison Rex. It was thoroughly enjoyable to read and look at. Culver has a distinct style that reminds me of Bruce Timm and Doug Wildey, the artists from Batman: The Animated Series and Johnny Quest respectively. It has a cartoon element to it that is only enhance by Stephen Downer’s coloring.

Issues 10 through 12 add Dennis Culver into the writing mix, and it’s only added to the book. Several plotlines are begun here, expanded upon, including Edison Rex’s involvement with the death of Valiant, which his new hero “friends” are suspect about. There is an issue in the past, Rex chasing someone who indicated that she might be his ex-wife, though it’s not fully clear yet. And then issue 12 comes with the cover another homage to the comics of my youth. When Marvel celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Marvel Universe in 1986, they came out with a series of covers that had the heroes’ face in the center, surrounded by the supporting cast from the book. Edison is front and center on this cover, just as he would have been in the 1986 Marvel U. The issue focuses on TeenPeace, the grown sidekicks of Edison’s old foes, and their suspicions regarding Rex’s motives.

What’s next for Rex? Only Roberson and Culver know, but if we wait patiently we’ll see the next installment soon. Edison Rex is an enjoyable read, not only for the story, but for the little nuances that Roberson slips in here and there to remind us all that we don’t love just one comic for one reason, but all comics because of the shared experience of growing up reading these things. I wanted a Hostess Fruit Pie because I saw the ad in a comic book, and it’s comforting to know that someone else did too.

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Follow Brad Gischia on Twitter:  @comicwasteland

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