Continuing in the style of his previous comic Northlanders, Brian Wood focuses on the American Revolution this time around. Wood is able to craft deep character driven stories about people who history might’ve overlooked, giving voice to women soldiers, Native Americans, and common militia men. Similar to Northlanders’ one-shots or mini-series formula, it works well, giving Wood room to deliver his heartfelt stories of America’s past. Wood’s writing is superb, and gives incite into people who contributed to help make America what it is today. This is a fun read for historical-fiction fans, or those looking for strong character driven stories that are short and sweet.
Issue nine begins a new story and is narrated by a young Native boy named Stone Hoof. It focuses on the tension between Stone Hoof and a British soldier that he befriends named Will Henderson. Stone Hoof helps Henderson and his people build a fort while the Shawnee (Stone Hoof’s tribe) are hunting in the area. Soon enough though Stone Hoof’s tribe has to move on, and it is only years later when the French And Indian conflict is underway that he meets Henderson again. The next time they meet is in battle, as the Shawnee have allied with the French and together they siege the fort that together Henderson and Stone Hoof helped raise. Both of them survive the battle and meet in the aftermath, Stone Hoof expresses his frustration with the futility of the French and British war. He tries to reason with Henderson and asks why their cultures must claim land for themselves and horde it with such ferocity, to that Henderson simply replies, “Bit dramatic, the land here is endless.” Stone Hoof’s response is a bit wiser “you use hyperbole, the only thing that is endless is your capacity to feel fear and envy.” Henderson grows tired of their transaction and turns to leave when Stone Hoof offers to fetch him water one last time like he did for the man when he was a boy.
This type of scene in particular is one of Wood’s strong points, creating these tender moments between characters while also delivering powerful commentary about the subject matter. This is a perfect depiction of the misunderstanding between cultures during this part of American history. In the crazy grab for power and land there was a lot lost (I’m putting this lightly, because I’m no history buff). It’s also important to note how Wood handles depicting Native American culture in this; no broken English, or inaccuracies here, he is very respectful, and artist Andrea Mutti makes the Shawnee warriors look cool as hell. Wood is as much historian as he is comic writer and he definitely has a touch for focusing on minority or women figures, which is incredibly important as history often overlooks them.
Wood has a great thing going here, and the anthology style works perfectly for his ideas. This issue (as far as I know) was a one-shot and works as a vignette into the ideologies behind the French and Indian War. Each story is primarily driven by internal narration from the protagonist of each story, it allows for Wood to teach us history with a personal twist. Although these stories are fiction, they are undoubtedly based in reality, giving off a true feeling of loss, love, fear, sadness, and hope. War is brutal, but sometimes we forget that one of our country's largest conflicts was more than just Washington crossing the Delaware, or the signing of the Declaration. It was ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and those things should never be forgotten.
Rebels #9 Writer: Brian Wood Artist: Andrea Mutti Colorist: Jordie Bellaire Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/9/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital