Dark Horse Comics 2016
Written by Brian Wood
Illustrated by Mack Chater
Coloured by Lee Loughridge
Lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot
BRIGGS LAND, USA—NEARLY A HUNDRED SQUARE MILES OF RURAL WILDERNESS, OWNED AND CONTROLLED BY THE BRIGGS FAMILY, A COMMUNITY OF ANTIGOVERNMENT SECESSIONISTS. FOR GENERATIONS, THE BRIGGS CLAN WERE CONTENT TO LIVE FREE AND PEACEFUL LIVES, BUT WITH THE RISE OF RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM AND THE AGE OF TERROR, THEIR ACTIVITIES HAVE TURNED CRIMINAL.
AS HEAD OF THE BRIGGS FAMILY, GRACE WANTS TO RETURN THE COMMUNITY TO ITS BACK-TO-THE-LAND ORIGINS. BUT THE VIOLENCE AND CORRUPTION ARE ENTRENCHED, AND IT’LL GET WORSE BEFORE IT CAN GET BETTER.
This is such a richly character driven story and that Brian has done his research in these kinds of communities so that what he brings to the table is so realistic is amazing to see. Grace is a strong capable woman and she’s overlooked for being a woman. Now with her husband in jail and no chance of getting out she’s taken control of the family, the land and the community and it’s time for things to change.
I like the way this issue plays out. It’s important for us to see her as both the victim and the aggressor in dealing with Cauley. That she’s willing to set herself up as bait to lure him out into the open relying upon her son as backup really goes a long way in both establishing that trust with her son as well as demonstrating her strength. It’s moments like this that help put to rest the questions of her validity in running Briggs Land.
I think the flashback here was well done. It demonstrates the inherent difference in how she and Jim see things. How things should be dealt with. Also it firmly entrenches what happens when you break the rules and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon as violence is the way to keep people in line on Briggs Land. Jim is much colder and less able to deal with things on an emotional level and Grace is more sympathetic to how life on the land is important to the women and children here. Brian is slowly establishing the major differences between them and we’re seeing how she’s emerging as a much stronger woman than we’ve already been seeing.
Mack and Lee’s work on the interiors here is really quite something. I like the way Mack uses the backgrounds here to establish the shot and give his panels perspective. The flow of the page layouts with angles and perspective are well thought out. The characters themselves have emotion, feeling and in Grace that feeling she carries the weight of the world on her. That they look and feel like real people you’d encounter speaks volumes when reading this book.
Brian’s ability to give us such character driven storytelling while also moving the story forward at the same time is wonderfully done. With the agents stumbling across the ambush and events transpiring as they do it establishes more that needs to be explored and resolved. Such strong powerful writing, characterisation and story development surrounded by gritty real life artwork make this an amazing read.