Historical fiction is not really my cup of tea. So when I look back at my decision to review Rebels, I scratch my head. I shouldn't have liked this book, but I did. Set in the late 1700's on the brink of the American Revolution, Rebels is a new title from Dark Horse that has been advance reviewed on pretty much every site by now, and Dark Horse was right to crank the hype machine. This was an enjoyable book to me, and, as previously stated, I dislike historical fiction.
First let's start with our dear friend Brian Wood. It is documented (Yes, I count tweets as documentation.) that he approached this project with fresh research rather than trying to rely on 9th grade American history and AMC's Turn like I would have done. The result is a story that feels like the 1700's, and yet the book is still easily accessible. The story is robust and well paced. Though it passes through multiple settings and events, each moment is developed and provides a glimpse into the struggles of colonialism under British rules. At times these scenes only feel loosely connected, but I expect that this will all tie together quite well in the end. Wood's play on emotional aspects strikes gold on a couple of occasions and, at least for me, falls flat in one instance. Though the story is not some mind blowing philosophical adventure, it is an example of great storytelling on Wood's part.
As good of a job as Wood does storytelling, Andrea Mutti out shines him. Mutti uses thin defined lines to create each character and then heavily inks their surroundings to set them apart. This works well when Bellaire comes behind him with the colors. Because the story is dialogue driven, Mutti uses posture and facial expressions to convey proper emotions. A couple panels in particular exemplify his abilities as characters scream. Mutti illustrates the intensity in the men's faces with ease it seems. The only flaw is a single panel where two characters reach out to hold hands. In this panel the hands look just a little awkward, but fortunately Wood's direction and dialogue in the scene keep the moment intact. Bellaire's colors certainly don't hurt either.
Here is where I typically break down the colors, and it is often my favorite part to write, but you know what? I'm not going to do it this time. It is Jordie Bellaire. I don't need to tell you that she is amazing. This woman is at the top of the coloring game and somehow she is still getting better. Everyone can see it, and if you don't like her work, then I don't want to be your friend. Go on, git! Never did like you much anyways.... Where was I? Rebels is just more of the same excellent work from Bellaire, and I don't need to tell you more than that because you should have bought this book the moment you learned that she was coloring it!
Rebels should be placed on your pull list if you are a historical fiction fan. Everyone else should at least give the first issue a try. I have a feeling this series will have a solid run, and given its more grounded nature than most comics, it may end up in a few university classrooms for excessive dissection. We typically don't give numerical ratings here at The Outhouse, but I can't resist a dumb joke:
11 out of 13 Colonies.