- Writer: Brian Wood
- Illustrations: Andrea Mutti
- Colors: Jordie Bellaire
- Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
- Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Put down your cape books and your sci-fi epics, it’s time to crack open the history books. Set during the first shots of what would soon become the American Revolutionary War, Brian Wood and Andrea Mutti brings us Rebels, a no-nonsense historical drama from Dark Horse Comics.
Like his father before him, Seth Abbott is a man of few words. Brought up fighting in the forests of New Hampshire, he has known nothing but conflict. Oppressed by the King’s men who seek to grind the newest and largest of the colonies under the bloodied boot of the British Empire, Seth soon grows into a man of the rebellion. When his words stave off a potential riot, it seems like Seth is set for greatness…
Brian Wood’s script rich in character and buzzing with tension. He quickly establishes time and place, although he goes a little overboard with the word count on a few panels. There’s so much establishing information to get across here, but Seth’s narration seems appropriate and organic.
Letterer Jared K. Fletcher has his work cut out for him here, and he performs admirably, whilst Andrea Mutti’s occasional tendency to add dead space between panels shows that the whole creative team took the wordiness of Woods’ script into account.
Wood also adds a romantic element to the script in the form of Seth’s interactions with the strong-willed Mercy Tucker, although he avoids teenage puppy-love in a general fondness and the antiquated idea of marriage as utility. You can feel that there’s a great sense of companionship between Mercy and Seth, but it isn’t the “love-hearts and chocolate trays” romance that so often appears in fiction.
Overall, Woods’ script seems a convincing snapshot into life in the America of the late 1770’s. I must admit, my own personal knowledge of this time period is spotty at best (I’m British, so for obvious reasons we didn’t really cover the American Revolutionary War in School!), but the dialogue and plot seems well attuned to the period.
Elsewhere, Andrea Mutti draws a citizenry in disrepair. Mutti fills character faces with crags, divots, scars and sweat-beads, which gives everyone a weathered look fitting to their tumultuous lives. Mutti does not shy away from the ugliness of conflict. Powder and smoke from archaic weaponry fills the air during a hard-hitting massacre, whilst injured men hold their wounds as they cry out in agony.
Jordie Bellaire sticks to an autumnal color palette, keeping to the grass-roots theme and locale of Rebels. Meanwhile, the crimson coats of the British forces stand out as the only elements with truly bright color, which only emphasises the Loyalists’ disruptive influence.
Dark Horse should be applauded for publishing Rebels #1. Gutsy, well-written and with solid artwork, it is the first part of a grounded historical tale that will elevate the literary value of anyone’s pull list.
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