I'm not sure why Wood decides to skip the entire war, starting us with the last day of fighting in 1783 after we ended the last issue in January 25, 1776. But he does, and it makes it hard to connect to the emotions that he wants us to feel as we watch Seth make his way home. For example, we learn that Ezekiel died, but we didn't actually see it happen. It comes across as a jarring bit of exposition, making it hard to shed any tears as Seth stands on the random meadow where he buried him and regrets not being able to lay him to rest back home. It's not that it's difficult to believe that Seth suffered in those six years that he found himself in the war. But, when he's arguing with Mercy that she should excuse his absence, it would be a lot easier to be sympathetic if we had seen that suffering. After all, it's even easier to imagine Mercy's suffering, particularly when she talks about delivering their child on her own because the midwife was late.
That said, Wood does do a solid job of showing Seth's struggle as he's suddenly thrust into domesticity. He could write an entire series following on Seth's comment that he went from taking down an empire in battle to worrying about how to keep jarred fruit cool in the summer. He's also not easy on Seth. His protestations to Mercy that she's not being fair sound like a teenager whining to his mother, and we're reminded that he's barely much older than a teenager (despite the way that Mutti draws him). He's also pretty honest with us that he'd easily leave his wife and son again if another adventure presented itself, and here Wood answers my question about Seth's motives. He says at the end of the issue that he's proud that he'll build his future on free land. However, you can't help but feel that it's justification for having gone on the "grand adventure," as opposed to the grand adventure itself merely helping him achieve his goal of freedom. It's nice to get this sense of closure, since it gives us our first real insight into Seth's character.
I'm not sure where I'm going from here with "Rebels." Given that I'm at a six-week backlog of comics and some weeks involve 14 comics, I feel like I could definitely stand to cut a few. Wood's vision for this series is different from the one that I had, though we certainly find ourselves in the same ballpark. Moreover, this issue was an improvement over previous ones, where I was left with some pretty basic questions about the plot. At this stage, I'm willing to stick with it another arc to see how it goes. I'm just hoping we don't skip over the good parts again.
*** (three of five stars)