Writer: Brian Wood / Artist: Mack Chater / Dark Horse Comics
The great thing about comics as a form of storytelling is that we’re at the point where there’s a story for just about everyone… even the people that think there isn’t a story for them in comics. Whatever you see on television or movies or novels, I can almost guarantee you’ll find its counterpart in comic book format. Briggs Land: Lone Wolves is a towering testament to this idea. Political commentary in comics is Brian Wood’s bread and butter, so a crime drama about a major secessionist movement in America is clearly him taking the kid gloves off.
This book, much like a lot of Wood’s work, is immensely strong when it zeroes in on standalone tales with minimal action and heavy character development. Issue #4 slows things down from the last time we saw the Briggs family, focusing on Abbie Briggs, an outsider who married into the fold. When the book starts, she’s running off in the middle of the night to help a teenage girl though a tough situation. Though the book seems to go through the story very straightforward at first glance, there’s a lot of things at play here. For one, we end up getting a (so far) rare look at how the common people of the outside world view Briggs Land that proves to be effective and feels like a very realistic encounter given today’s political climate. Very little about the concept of Briggs Land is black and white. There are people… people who live inside and outside of Briggs Land… who view it in ways that span the whole political spectrum and none of their views are entirely right or wrong.
We also get important insight into Abbie, who proves to be a compelling, conflicted character as an outsider looking in despite being in the family. She’s definitely not an idiot buying the Briggs kool-aid word for word but she’s mature enough to understand the give and take of her situation. She talks a good game to her charge, Gilly, but even she finds her own words being put to the test when she comes face to face with her old life. I call it a crime drama but honestly, there are moments when this book throws you for a loop and screenshots very intimate moments to offer more of a character study. When it comes to what this story is ultimately going to be, Briggs Land is potentially just as layered and complicated as the human condition itself.
Mack Chater’s artwork brings with it a very quiet, subtle tension with it. There is no real action in this issue and yet there were moments when I was on the edge of my seat as if Pennywise was on the other side of the door. Everything about Briggs Land is so tense on every page but I imagine that the same would be true for these characters so it’s good that Chater can deliver such immersive book.
Bottom Line: Brian Wood has something truly special here. Briggs Land is one of the best books on the shelves that it seems like nobody talks about. When this tv show comes out, people are going to be wondering how they were sleeping on this comic and end up collecting it in bulk like people do with The Walking Dead. This issue alone is good enough to sell anyone on this series.
Reading Briggs Land? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.