Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"Hold still, or I'll shoot."
"My father told you about crossing our fields, you spook the cows and the milk comes spoilt."
"Come off it, Mercy Tucker. That's just famers' superstition."
"So, what? We're famers, ain't we? We'd know, wouldn't we? You two just gonna stand there like a pair of jackanapes?"
"Mercy, your Pa knows what's at stake. He knows the militia is what's keeping this farm out of the hands of the thieves down in Albany. Your Pa would let us pass freely. Your Pa wouldn't point a musket in our faces."
"Redcoats came up the big house three days ago, Ezekiel. Pa signed the grant papers over to the Sheriff. Made us tenants, didn't they? I've been out in these fields since, ashamed to see my Pa, knowing he'd be ashamed to by seen by me."
"Mercy... tell your Pa, we'll be back with those papers."
Young Seth Abbott has a lot to learn about the different ways war can be waged. He might be a member of the local militia sworn to achieve independence from the British and their hated occupying armies of Redcoats, but not all battles are fought with a gun.
I suspect this is going to be a fascinating series for anyone interested in history, and particularly this period, which I will fully admit is not one I know much about, partly because, given the British ultimately got booted out, it doesn't get taught much in UK schools!
I do, however, clearly remember inadvertently instigating a full-on cowboy-style barroom brawl in Alabama one 4th of July, when asked by a smartarse local what we called Independence Day in the UK. My somewhat alcohol-aided throwaway riposte of it being known as the Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish Day provoked a wild swing from my outraged non-compadre which I fortunately dodged.
Unfortunately for him, it smashed the orneriest nutter in the bar squarely on the back of the head, whom, delightedly taking offense with the idiot in question, after eyeing the pair of us up and deciding my best "it wasn't me, honest guvnor" face was clearly one to be trusted, went at the haymaker like an out-of-control combine harvester. Suffice to say, before you could utter "Four score and seven years ago..." there were Stetsons being knocked jauntily askew left, right and centre as a group of about thirty locals started going at it en masse, settling old scores. I just inched my way through to the edge of the melee somehow unscathed, picked up my Heineken which was perched on the bar and propped myself up to enjoy the scene. Good times.
Anyway... digression done with, Brian Wood has commented he intends this to be a NORTHLANDERS-style title. By which he means that each arc will be self-contained thus allowing him to tell various different colonists' stories, not just the famous figures of the time. For let's not forget that ultimately this is what all the non-indigenous inhabitants of North America were at that time really: not natives, but relatively recently arrived pioneers who, for the most part, actually didn't wanted to secede from British rule until the British government caused such dissent and consternation with their taxation policies. Then their rather heavy-handed attempts to crush any dissent didn't help.
This everyman concept - which I think worked extremely well in NORTHLANDERS in allowing him to explore the very diverse elements and traditions, plus the varied political and social structures of the Viking world, in addition to some major events of course - could translate very nicely to this milieu, even though it was of course considerably briefer and more geographically condensed. Because actually, that's what I'm interested in: what was life like for the settlers during this incredible period of upheaval? Inevitably sides had to be chosen, stands taken, and many a heavy price paid. Just not tea taxes...
This first arc, then, deals mainly with young militia man Seth Abbott and his bride Mercy Tucker. Actually, it's mainly about their dual lives, during the long, seven-year separation the war causes them. In truth, though, it's as much choice for Seth as duty, something his wife, bringing up their son and protecting their homestead alone, does not appreciate one iota, even if she intends to remain faithful and true to her wedding vows. Then there are also some individual issues featuring very different characters: a wife fighting alongside the soldiers including her husband on the front lines, a Native American Indian who finds conflicting friendship and tribal loyalties impossible to resolve, and a freed black slave fighting on behalf of the Crown. I think Brian Wood certainly delivers and then some on his intentions to show the individual human stories of the war.
Lovely delicate art from Andrea Mutti on three of the six issues in this volume (#1, #4 & #5), he does like his line shading, very ably supported by Matthew Woodson, Ariela Kristiantina, Tristan Jones, who take an issue each. The changes in art style neatly accompany the changes in character or focus of the storyline.