Dark Horse Gets Patriotic With RebelsMarch 12, 2015
Set at the dawn of the America Revolution, Rebels #1 pays tribute to the spirit and history of the era through the men and women of the New Hampshire Grants. Follow Seth Abbott and the Green Mountains Boys, the first militia of the revolution, as they join in the fight for independence!
For as long as Seth Abbott can remember, the men of the New Hampshire Grants (modern day Vermont) have fought to keep their lands from falling into the hands of the soldiers of Albany. In the year of 1775, he must gather his courage and join with his brothers to make a stand. Seth’s war has begun.
Brian Wood (Northlanders) and Andrea Mutti (Noir) have found an excellent balance between history and fiction with Rebels. The story looks and feels like a lost chapter in the American Revolution, and is told as if Seth Abbott’s diary were being read out loud for the first time. The first issue is prologue to a turning point in both Seth’s life and American history, but it never allows the history to overwhelm the story. It’s a personal tale about one man’s actions during a time of extraordinary circumstances, and Wood never takes the story beyond Seth’s own understanding of the world.
Seth Abbott may not have special powers or a prophecy to fulfill, but he is our gateway to the past. Wood’s has crafted a character that is a humble participant in the events of the revolution bringing everything down to a human level. Seth’s struggles feel relatable even though they occur centuries ago, and it’s easy to forget he’s a fiction character within real events.
Wood’s use of dialogue gives personality to the men and women that find themselves at the crossroads of change. Throwing in idioms and changing the structure of sentences, Wood’s makes the characters’ speech feel authentic. It’s difficult to recreate the speech of past centuries, but Wood’s does so in a way that doesn’t make the dialogue too foreign while reading.
Rebels is a masterful recreation of America in the 18th century. Mutti has beautifully constructed historical Vermont with verdant forests, large farms, and serene towns that capture the ruralness of American culture at the time. His careful attention to clothing and weaponry shows an understanding of the era while Jordie Bellaire’s (Everything) coloring brings the rustic feel of the century to life. Together they’re able to show the social dynamics of American society in the 18th century, this is especially true in the differences between the redcoats and the townspeople. The brights reds and formal dress of the soldiers differ from the plainness of the townspeople, which visually shows the sides of the conflict. Even without Wood’s dialogue the art is able to take readers back in time and give them a sense of the political tensions of the period.
As a history nerd, I spent most of my time separating the facts from fiction in the issue. Wood and Mutti have thoroughly researched the era and Rebels is a reflection of the labor and love they’ve put into creating an authentic story. The American Revolution is often painted in a glamorous light, but I enjoyed the way the creative team brought the period back to its rustic roots. Sure, George Washington may not have appeared but he exists in Seth’s world, and its makes the story more exciting knowing that key figures may play a role in Seth’s life. The first issue has the right amount of action and conflict to immerse readers in the plot, and Wood and Mutti have built a firm foundation for future issues.
Rebels #1 is the Masterpiece Theater of comics. The writing and art style captures an America at the turning point in the 18th century, and it will be interesting to see how Woods and Mutti continue to weave Seth Abbott’s tale into the fabric of history.
[Image from Dark Horse]