Briggs Land #1 Review
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Mack Chater
Colors by Lee Loughridge
Review by Max Mallet
“You are now leaving the United States.”
Picture an enclave, armed to the teeth and brimming with resentment for the outside world. It’s the largest secessionist movement in the United States, harbored within a swath of rural wilderness. Run from behind bars by its patriarch, old-school mafia style. Its matriarch – Grace Briggs, the story’s apparent protagonist – has thoughts of her own for leading Briggs Land into the future, causing a schism in her family and the surrounding community.
That’s the premise for the politically pertinent Briggs Land, a brand new series from Dark Horse and born from the mind of Brian Wood. The seasoned writer and video game designer’s first issue is brimming with unsavory characters, realism and one hell of a cliffhanger. Wood is laying the groundwork for a series that rubs elbows with Sons of Anarchy – Grace Briggs comes across as more of an anti-hero than a benevolent leader, but might have moments of true heroism simply because of the other characters in her midst.
As with any inaugural issue, there’s a lot of backstory and character development. Wood writes believable character dialogue, marrying gruff, tough-guy-speak to the tense mood and direction of the story. It appears that Briggs Land has achieved a semblance of sovereignty from the United States – we don’t have the full grasp of the socio-political mechanisms just yet – but this is the one fantastical element in an otherwise grounded story. It’s hard to imagine that this aspect of the story will be left as a loose end, and it’ll be interesting to learn how Briggs Land came to be and how it sustains itself. While the story mentions the Ruby Ridge and Waco conflicts by name, given today’s geo-political climate, a case can be made that Briggs Land represents an ISIS metaphor on a smaller scale (not to mention closer to home).
The artwork is grounded in realism, as artist Mack Chater’s work appears as more of a nod to The Walking Dead than it does to your typical super-hero tale. This compliments Wood’s terse dialogue and militarized characters. Lee Loughride’s colors serves as the visual icing on the cake – giving Briggs Land a rust-and-dust aesthetic – somewhat similar to the atmosphere of a Telltale Games product. Collectively, the artwork gives the issue a foreboding quality, as if to tell readership that things are going to go sideways before they get better.
Buy! To preface, I thoroughly enjoy when fiction tangles with real-world problems and politics. The premise alone should entice you to want to check this out, and I’ll vouch that the writing and artwork is good enough to want to come back for seconds. AMC is already developing this story in television form. That’s right – the same network that brought us the joys of Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and Preacher. If a television network has the confidence to start working on a show before the first issue of its comic counterpart hits the stand, there’s a chance that Wood, Chater and Loughridge are introducing us to the next great comic series.