Rebels: These Free & Independent States #1 Review


By Brian Wood, Andrea Mutti, Lauren Affe, Matt Taylor, Jared K Fletcher

Brian Wood continues with his revolutionary themed historical comic Rebels, and shows us what happened after our nation won independence…

Having read the first volume of Rebels recently, I instantly became a fan with Wood’s tales of frontiersmen fighting for their livelihood and way of life. It’s a book that feels personal and down to Earth, but woven throughout a legendary era of America. So I’m glad to have more of that.

The story picks up with the same protagonist named Seth Abbot and his wife and son. While his son develops a fascination with ships and sailing (possibly a case of Asperger’s Syndrome), Seth chooses to send him away to learn the trade in the hope that John will have a better life. Almost 10 years later in 1794, Alexander Hamilton is arguing in front of a relatively new Congress for the need of a continental Navy and for America to protect herself and her interests.

It’s to say whether the emotional payoff works for someone with no previous following of Seth Abbot and his family, or watched how Wood has recreated the American Revolution through the eyes of untrained volunteers forced into fighting for liberty. The material is almost universal, but I feel that this is one of the double-edged strengths and weaknesses of comics where readers who diligently followed what came before have an unfair advantage. Wood seems to write directly to them, as the issue focuses either on John Abbot’s love of ships or Hamilton pleading with Congress to create a way to protect America’s trade investments overseas. It may not sound engrossing, but it is for me since I’ve watched Seth Abbot and his family mature over several issues. Also, since the Revolutionary War is over I’m not sure why this book is still called Rebels (aside from branding obviously).

For those unfamiliar with Andrea Mutti’s art, they should rectify that immediately. Mutti’s style somewhat informal but also very impressionist with the approach to human figures and forest scenery. It’s loose and looks natural without heavy hatching, but brims with detail on every panel.  Affe’s colors play a big part in this, giving the art an oil painting vibe with vibrant colors that compose a running theme on some pages (blue as Seth and John look out over the sea, green as they travel through the forest). It’s just in the scenery but also the way light affects their clothing, blue takes over the page but without feeling obtrusive or unnatural.

Overall, this is sure to please fans of Wood’s work and  Rebels. For those hoping to see some historical drama play out, they may have to wait until the next issue. If there’s one drawback, its that Wood hasn’t fully explained why America’s trade ships are being attacked in the first place. Still, I haven’t read a bad issue of Rebels yet and it fills a huge void in the comics landscape for historical fiction.

Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent

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