Historica 84: Rebels – From colonies to confederation, review: a story without heroes


Necklace Historica, edited by Mondadori, has hosted since its debut in the newsstands some of the most valuable historical comic strips of international comics mainly from the French market. Among the exceptions we find the American Rebels, passionate narrative of the birth of the United States of America written by Brian Wood for the designs of our compatriot Andrea Mutti, published at home by Dark Horse Comics. We have already had the opportunity to appreciate in the past the previous chapters of the epic of Wood and Mutti, of which the fourth volume entitled Rebels: From the Colonies to the Confederation.


Faithful to the ideological register that the writer has given to the entire work since the first releases, also in this volume the story is told through the eyes of the humble, colonists and peasants, those “supporting actors” of historical events whose names are never reported in the official chronicles and even less in the textbooks. Thus, if in the first releases the task of narrating the founding events of the nascent United States of America was entrusted to the family Abbott, through the eyes of Patriarch Seth first and of his son John after, the spotlight is now shifting to other characters. Some were born from Wood’s fantasy; others, however, are well known and celebrated by history.


By granting an exception to the guidelines that had been given so far, in the first story of the volume the writer finally assigns the leading role to George Washington, commander of the rebel forces and future first President of the USA. Here is narrated the capture of Fort Rectitude by a small group of virginian colonists under the orders of a young Washington against the French, who in turn had stolen it from the British. The latter will interpret the unscrupulous gesture of the American general as the spark of those hostilities that will start shortly thereafter. While granting, for the first time, the limelight to a historical figure, Wood does not move away from the poetics that has characterized his work so far on Rebels: his prose and his characterization of the characters are deliberately dry and devoid of any rhetoric, firm in the intention of giving readers the report of historical facts made by men with strengths and weaknesses and not an hagiography of saints and virtuosos. In this perspective, the portrait that the writer makes of Washington is emblematic: a young daredevil and shrewd beyond the limits of the allowed, certainly courageous but also dangerously reckless. Wood submits the figure of the American general to a process of demythologization and humanization which, through him, also involves the narration of the birth of the United States of America, thus stripped of any epic and heroic aura that could today be used instrumentally by supremacist currents and sovraniste. As brilliantly underlined by Sergio Brancato in his introduction to the volume, Wood intends to recover the American collective memory in a critical dimension, capable of restoring its original meanings to the great national epic.


As in the previous volumes, Andrea Mutti once again accompanies the writer’s texts with a classic and effective storytelling both in the most agitated moments of action and in intimate and domestic moments. They join the Brescia artist in the following chapters, in the name of a very pleasant stylistic unity guaranteed by the colors of Lauren Affe, the Abruzzese Luca Casalanguida, now widely launched overseas, and the Catalan Joan Urgell, making the graphic sector of the volume absolutely precious for one of the most interesting sagas of the stars and stripes comic strip in recent years.

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