“Rebels” #2 continues to be, in many ways, the spiritual successor to writer Brian Wood’s “Northlanders.” His previous series gave us a series of stories starring Vikings, set firmly in the past even as you could see parallels to present day political situations. That continues here, as Wood and Andrea Mutti give us a story set in the earliest days of the American Revolution.
The opening storyline introduces us to Seth Abbott, a member of the Green Mountain Boys within the New Hampshire colony. As he’s fighting, his wife Mercy continues to maintain their small home and property, with the occasional visit from Seth. It’s that latter part which, in many ways, is the most interesting so far. It’s nice to see Seth and Mercy interact, in no small part because it puts a human face on the sometimes-nebulous form of the rebels. Their conversation about their plans, with Mercy bringing a reality check to their current situation, connects with readers.
The rest of the comic is enjoyable, but it’s lacking an emotional core to hook the reader. At times, it feels more like a textbook or a summary of historical events rather than the story of a person within a revolution. That core was present in the best of the “Northlanders” stories, so it’s frustrating to not quite see it present for most of “Rebels” #2. This is a time period ripe with interesting events, but it’s not quite as gripping as one might imagine.
Mutti’s art looks good here; he’s able to take simple moments like Mercy preparing dinner or even just a glimpse of the cabin from the outside and make it stand out. Mutti doesn’t sugarcoat the hard work that Mercy is doing on her own with Seth off in the resistance; he takes Wood’s script and makes it as backbreaking and tiring as possible. You can see the weariness on her face even as she moves forward without complaint; being one of the colonists, especially in the wilderness of New Hampshire, is not easy living by any stretch of the imagination. It’s funny because the overall look of the forests, streams and ponds of the area is gorgeous and it’s easy to become momentarily attracted to the idea of this sort of life. Mutti has a lot of small, fine detail on the landscape, and Jordie Bellaire’s colors complete the look; with those beautiful green hills and blue water, it’s a vivid depiction of the unspoiled northeastern area of what would become the United States.
“Rebels” #2 is a book where there are flashes of greatness but, overall, it doesn’t seem to live up to its full potential. With time, hopefully Seth Abbott will become a more compelling character, and Wood and Mutti’s story will continue to flesh out his humanity. For now, though, it’s not bad but not so compelling that you’ll be dying for the next issue, either. Here’s hoping that, as the rebellion grows, so does the need to see what happens next.