Dark Horse Comics 2017
Written by Brian Wood
Illustrated by Andrea Mutti
Coloured by Lauren Affe
Lettered by Jared K. Fletcher
In 1775, Seth Abbott picked up his rifle and helped his fellow Americans win their independence. In 1794, his savant son John comes of age as the nation faces threats on multiple fronts: terror from the Barbary States, a growing danger from Britain and intense political division at home.
I was such a fan of the first arc of Rebels and what it did, the way Brian used history and people to really create a world you could relate to and how incredibly well Andrea brought that to life. Creating characters to interact with those that are well known at that time so we can get that original characterisation and not worry if the characters are behaving in the “right” way or not made the history of it all that much more interesting. So with this arc being in the world’s future with the son of Seth taking center stage it feels right. One generation passing the torch to the next as the fledgling nation continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
Here’s what I love about this the American Navy was formed during the Revolutionary War, disbanded by George Washington and then didn’t come back into being until 1794. While I have no doubt Brian did his homework here still it’s something you look at go hmm is that right and then google it and see and viola it’s right on the money. What we see here is the interpretation of those events unfolding before our eyes. So in essence it really is a history lesson using the correct catalysts proving once again that comics are both entertaining and educational. I mean i’d be much more prone to remembering this from reading comics than a history book and it’s how I learned about the Greek Gods and World War II to some extent.
The introduction of John, Seth’s son, and his peculiar gift is handled extremely well. We have a hard time today dealing with children who are savants so I can only imagine that in the 1700’s it must have been even harder when a child like that was smarter and more in tune with something than most adults could ever hope to be. It does make for interesting dialogue, premise and setting up the story arc as well as giving us room for characterisation and character growth throughout the story.
I adore the way Andrea brings us the colonial style dress and his rendition of these ancient maritime vessels. Whether he had a love of ships prior to doing this I don’t know but he certainly knows them now as is clearly evident when we see them on the pages. The attention to detail is superb and the way that the whole mood, tone and feel of what we see is amazingly well portrayed. The use of page layouts through their angles, perspective and backgrounds couldn’t be any better at controlling the flow of the story.
This is some of the finest storytelling we’re going to get in our lifetime, it’s real in that it happened and yet seen through the eyes of those created to experience it. It’s a journey of wonder at a time when it looked like the fledgling nation was still in trouble during that turbulent infancy. Plus some of the parallels to today shouldn’t go unnoticed or forgotten making it even more powerful a read.