Published on April 9th, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
Rebels #1 Review
It’s 1775 and Seth Abbott is about to become entangled in some massive historic events and also the life of a farmer’s daughter, Mercy Tucker.
Brian Wood’s new creator owned title for Dark Horse Comics is a historic drama piece set during the events of the American Revolution. It starts with the central character as a child baying for his father’s attention. Unfortunately for the young Seth the first time that his father takes an interest is when they are faced with a troop of British Red Coats who are encroaching on their land. A group of locals wait in hiding, ready to ambush the small armed force and it all hangs on the call to ‘fire’, a command that Seth’s father lays at the feet of his young boy. Seth is nervous and scared and the pressure almost gets to him; almost.
This opening salvo not only gives the reader an immediate insight into the character of Seth Abbott but it sets the tone for the entire issue. There are no heroes here, just people protecting their land, farmers trying to live their lives, families struggling through hard times. The reader is introduced fairly briefly to Seth’s family but they are instantly easy to relate to: a simple family getting on with the task of living. But all of this changes with an act of violence, in this case the ambush on the British Soldiers. It is a defining moment in Seth’s young life and is a moment that, as a reader, you take with you further into the comic. When an older Seth is confronted by the injustice of the Redcoats and their senseless killing, there are echoes of the opening pages and Brian Wood gives his character brief moments of reflection. As a reader you are unsure what Seth might do and his eloquent speech does come as a bit of a surprise, even to his closest friend.
The other major narrative in this first issue is the relationship between Seth and Mercy. Mercy is introduced as an independent woman, the daughter of a farmer who has lost his land, yet she feels that she must still protect it. She is impressed by Seth, not just because he managed to reclaim the deeds to her father’s land but because he kept his word; he proved that his words meant something and weren’t just fancy talk to woo the local girls.
There is no drawn out romance, no ‘will they, won’t they’ story arc here. There is a scene where Mercy and Seth have a touching moment and then the narration states clearly that they get married. Wood isn’t interested in how these two get together as much as what will happen to them afterwards. The wedding is not important but their marriage will be.
The issue ends with a statement from Seth;
“My war was begun.”
On the surface he is referring to the forthcoming battle against the British but beneath that Wood is referring to his characters life as a whole. Marriage, responsibility, adult hood, all of these things are part of that war and will no doubt be examined over the course of this series.
In the back of this issue Brian Wood talks about his inspirations and motivations for writing this comic, he talks about his fascination with this period of history and says he “had a great experience showing this side of America: the emergence of a new nation from chaos, and all the hope and urgency and excitement that come with it.” And I would say that this comes through in the work. The script is a kind of coarse poem, depicting an historical event like a Shakespearean play, littered with different voices from different walks of life. He introduces the setting by using the people that inhabit it to make it more relatable to the reader and he does this expertly. This issue is full of character and is bursting with life and energy.
The art work is also exceptional, shifting from dramatic scenes to tender, personal moments with an unbroken rhythm that matches the poetic feel of the narrative. There is an element of realism that is accentuated by the more classical depictions of the period and some of the pages almost feel like you are walking through a gallery of historical paintings.
Everyone involved with this comic has excelled themselves. It is a riveting read with outstanding visuals that draw you deeper into the story. Already there are a number of characters that leap from the page and deserve your attention. The scene is set for a rollercoaster of a ride, something which I have come to expect from Brian Wood over the years.
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire