Briggs Land #1
Written by: Brian Wood
Art by: Mack Chater
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Nate Peikos of Blambot
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Brian Wood has never shied away from writing about complex socio-political topics within his stories. Be it his Vertigo series ‘DMZ’ or his more recent work at Dark Horse like ‘The Massive’, Wood will write about topics that are taboo in polite company. Wood’s newest book is Briggs Land, and it strikes a similar vein to his previous work. This time his story is about an anti-government secessionist family that has won the battle against the United States, but now must fight a war to maintain unity.
Family Dramas live or die on the strength/charm of their characters and Briggs Land is no different. The work that Chater is able to do with drawing each family member different yet similar is a wonder to behold. Looking at the character designs is like looking at a friend’s family photo and noticing the uniqueness of each member while also seeing the resemblances. You can see the stress lines on the older family member’s faces and the gauntness of a son who has returned home from Afghanistan. Chater’s attention to detail in that regard is above average.
One complaint of mine about some of Wood’s previous comics that I often have is that there simply aren’t enough words in his stories. I find my-self breezing through them and not feeling like I ‘got’ story. There would be this feeling of a distance between what he wanted the story to convey and what I was able to discern from the page. Briggs Land doesn’t suffer from that. Each character’s voice seemed so well defined that I was actually taken aback by how whole formed they were on the page. The character/ world building both Wood and Chater are able to do across 36 pages really help the reader gain a better understanding of the world/ characters.
The story begins at a breakneck pace, but it doesn’t involve a car chase or a gunfight. It’s the family matriarch deposing the patriarch in a federal supermax prison. Chater uses a widescreen panel format to tell the beginning of the story so you understand that these are luminaries in the family hierarchy and what this confrontation means on a plot level for the entire book. When Chater wants to slow the story down or add tension to a specific scene he injects a panel into each widescreen shot to great effect.
Buy IT! With real life incidents like the Bundy Standoff in Nevada and the Malheur Standoff in Oregon happening in recent history this book feels very prescient. This “ripped from the headline” story is appealing to me for at least the first arc.