‘Rebels Vol. 1: A Well-Regulated Militia’ Graphic Novel Review
Written by: Brian Wood; Art by: Andrea Mutti, Matthew Woodson, Ariela Kristantina, Tristan Jones; Coloring by: Jordie Bellaire; Cover Art by: Tula Lotay
Rebels Volume 1: A Well-Regulated Militia exemplifies quality storytelling. This historical fiction is beautifully written and easily captures the interests of its readers within the first few panels. The stories within the volume touch upon various facets of life in the thirteen colonies. With narratives covering the Green Mountain Boys and Molly Pitcher to thoughtful accounts from a young Shawnee man and a British soldier respectively, Rebels takes various tales and weaves together a patchwork of experiences reflective of the beginnings of the American narrative.
The volume consists of five stories, one of which spans over several issues and begins readers’ journey through America’s formative years. This tale centers around a character named Seth Abbott. His story begins by allowing readers to see a condensed depiction of his childhood and the relationship he had with his quiet and emotionally disconnected father.
Shortly into the narrative, Seth relays a need to receive an indication of his father’s attention, approval, and love, and the opportunity to attain those things presents itself when the prospect of war arises. During this high-tension period, the father that appears indifferent to his son is finally taking an interest.
The father’s level of acknowledgment towards his son completely shifts when he realizes the family’s home and lifestyle are being threatened by the British. With swift action necessary to protect their livelihood, Seth’s father begins to carefully train the boy for battle; soon, a connection begins to develop between the two.
Unfortunately, when Seth feels he has disappointed his father, he finds himself vowing to make up for it with his rifle, his hands, and his courage. There will not be a shortage of chances for Seth to live up to his word either, for the young man will soon find himself playing an important part in the colonies’ liberation. However, it is not the only role Seth must adequately perform. Mr. Abbott becomes a married man, and with that, he must find a way to balance his longing to fight the British while attending to his wife and their marriage. The question is, will he successfully manage both responsibilities?
Rebels captivates readers quickly with an emotionally charged opening dialogue that not only encourages readers to sympathize with its main protagonist but also provides a more complex literary journey. Readers will not simply follow the dramatic and chaotic adventures of Seth Abbott; they will watch his character grow. He will overcome personal shortcomings related to his childhood and find a sense of validation within himself and his accomplishments. The growth Seth experiences prompts him to reflect about the boy he was, the man he is, and the decisions he has made the past several years, and it makes for truly engaging reading.
The carefully thought-out drawings and design make this volume that much more impressive as well. Each panel allows a fluidity that is hard to obtain in comics; yet, the artists who worked on Rebels were able to make the continuation from each panel seamless. Every illustration is impactful and takes on a cinematic quality. The resulting reading experience makes the story much too easy to readily consume, and that may be the only downfall this graphic novel possess.