Rebels “These Free and Independent States” #1
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Colorist: Lauren Affe
Letterer: Jared Fletcher
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
A review by Greg Brothers
Even when they are not trying to, comic books tend to reflect the history that is going on around them. The politics, the social issues, the pop culture all have an influence on the pages that are read. Because of the love of social issues and living history, it makes sense that some writers would look back and create comics that tackle the worlds history.
In 2015, Brian Wood began to tell the story of the American Revolution in Rebels: A Well-Regulated Militia. In the story, we meet Seth Abbott as he grows up during the time leading up to the American Revolution and through the war, as he and his wife Mercy deal with the consequences of his choices and the revolution in general. By the end of the series we get to see Seth and Mercy begin to settle into the new country as they begin to start their family.
In Rebels “These Free and Independent States” #1 the country is dealing with the growing pains of a new country. Although America is free, they are still dealing with threats from Britain, attacks on the sea from the Barbary States, and internal conflicts as the citizens argue whether the states or the federal government should come first. While the problems are being debated on the Federal level we are reintroduced to Seth and Mercy Abbott and their now ten-year-old son. While his father was more of a simple man who got by brandishing a weapon and fighting for the countries freedom, his son is more of a thinker which will take him places that his father has only dreamed of.
Brian Wood’s choice not to have Rebels “These Free and Independent States” #1 be totally accurate makes sense. It would have been difficult to make sure that all the facts lined up perfectly while moving the story of the Abbotts forward. While some of the famous player’s whereabouts may have been altered to fit the storyline, Wood does portray the actual debates and events that were happening accurately throughout this first issue. Focusing on a fictional family allows for Wood to explore the more human side of the growth of the country without having to worry about it interfering with the factual side of the story. While the story focuses on Jonathon we also get a glimpse of what life is like for families living on the frontier as they deal with raising children and the worry of what may happen to them. In the end, Wood can intertwine the story of young John Abbott perfectly with the historical events, as his interests line up with the needs of the young country.
Mutti’s art is realistic and gritty throughout Rebels “These Free and Independent States” #1. The years of hard work and hard living are shown on the way that the faces are drawn throughout. Contrast that with the clean and stately look on those meeting in Philadelphia and you get the true sense of how different the two groups are despite having many of the same goals. While Wood tells a story of the lives of the Abbotts, Mutti uses several panels to silently remind people the amount of work that the women had to do in the frontier as we see Mercy go through her daily chores.
Buy it! Rebels “These Free and Independent States” #1 does an excellent job reintroducing us to the Abbott family while still making the new series accessible for new readers. By using the fictional Abbott family allows Wood to explore deeper some of the themes that were below the surface without having to stretch history to much. The art not only fits the story telling but also tells many of the parts of the story itself. Brain Wood has shown in the past he can walk this line of combining history and fiction seamlessly and this first issues shows that he is still more than capable of walking that line.