When I wrote my first review for What’cha Reading (Classics Illustrated’s Benjamin Franklin), I was under the impression that historical comics would be few and far between. In my defense, I was a complete newbie to comics. Over the last year I’ve learned that there are actually a fair number of historical comics being published on a range of subjects. My favorites are still those centered around the American Revolution though, and I was really psyched to see that Dark Horse would be releasing a comic called Rebels this spring. I got my hands on a review copy and was spellbound.
Mention the Revolution and most of us think of Massachusetts or Philadelphia, or possibly Virginia since these are the places we remember hearing about in middle school history class. It’s easy to forget the other colonies, or that there were settlements on grants of land outside of those colonies. Rebels focuses on one of these, the New Hampshire Grants (what would eventually become Vermont), and the people who lived there—people whose lives, lands, and liberty were threatened by redcoats sent to enforce the law of the British Crown. The story’s main characters are Seth Abbott and Mercy Tucker, whose lives have been changed by their experiences with the redcoats. Wood and Mutti use Seth and Mercy’s story to tell the larger story of the War, with a few of the big names from the Revolution thrown in (after all, how could the action be set in 1775 Vermont without a mention of the Green Mountain Boys?).
This isn’t the clear-cut revolutionary tale you might expect, however, which I really appreciated. Wood makes sure we know there were plenty of people still loyal to King George III in addition to those who wanted to fight the redcoats, an important point that often gets glossed over in pop culture narratives about the Revolution. It’s also a family story: both Seth and Mercy have grown up on the New Hampshire Grants frontier, and they and their families have been shaped by the political climate there.
Rebels doesn’t come out for another month, and I don’t want to spoil it for you ahead of time, but if you’re into history or just a good story it’s a book I think you’ll want to pick up. The art and letters have a vintage feel to them (reminding me of Classics Illustrated, actually) that made it instantly visually appealing to me. My only gripe is that the hoodie-like outfit that Seth is wearing in the woods with his father seemed a bit anachronistic, but that’s very minor. The story is compelling and very well-paced, giving a good setup for who these characters are and what they have at stake. I like the long game that Wood and Mutti are playing, starting the story in 1768 so we can see how Seth’s character evolves over time, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the War comes to the Grants. I give Rebels #1 4.5 out of 5 Lightning Bolts.
If I’ve piqued your curiosity but you’re still not sold? Check out this animated trailer or the preview below.REBELS #1
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover: Tula Lotay
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release: April 8, 2015