Briggs Land #2
Written by: Brian Wood
Art by: Mack Chater
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Nate Peikos of Blambot
Editor: Spencer Cushing
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
I thought Briggs Land # 1 was especially prescient given its subject matter regarding hyper-conservatives who form their country on 100 miles of upstate New York. Then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gave a speech about “the mainstreaming of the Alt-Right” and it felt like Brian Wood and company had a magical mirror into the future of now. Briggs Land #1 came out August, 17th and that speech Clinton gives occurs on the 25th of August. The development cycle for comic books is anywhere from 4-6 months and there is no telling how long Brian Wood had these ideas in his head. It would seem that this idea of a hyper conservative movement in America isn’t under the sheets and Brian Wood has his hand right on the pulse of what’s going on.
Briggs Land #2 picks up the morning after the explosive ending to number 1. It primarily deals with, the matriarch of the family, Grace trying to consolidate control of her family after an attempt on her life. The story Wood and the team are trying to tell here works and we are given a few clues to pique our interest throughout and drive the reader on to the next issue. It isn’t the plot that is spectacular in the book, but the method of storytelling that I really enjoyed.
One of the best aspects of a veteran story teller like Wood writing this, is that each character has their own voice. Even the characters who don’t get much panel time feel like they live and breathe outside of the panel. The FBI agents who are hunting the family only get 4 pages total and the moments they have in the comic tug at the heartstring the most. The wife of the man who tried to kill Grace is in 7 panels and she evokes the most pathos of all the characters featured. It is this strength of characterization that gives the book a good basis to build from. None of this would be possible without the art of Mack Chater.
Mack Chater’s art as a driving force of the book is impeccable. The book opens on with a framing shot of what could be Main Street anywhere in the United States. The next panel then zooms the reader on to a coffee shop that could be anywhere in America and we are overhearing two FBI agents talk about the Briggs case they are working. And then the final panel is a close shot on the outside of the coffee shop and we can see the two agents talking. This works as a narrative device because it feels like we are eavesdropping on a conversation and gives the story a real world feel. Beautiful framing shots like that are interspersed throughout the comic.
Loughridge’s color work throughout this issue adds a power and tone that add to the book. When in the hospital room with Grace and her son, he desaturates the pallet by having all white in the actual room. Even Grace’s red hair seems to be dulled by being in the room. In the living room/hearth of the family mansion you notice a lot of browns. And it evokes an earthy familial feel. Outside of those two settings everything else has the typical Loughridge coloring. There is a page with 4 panels and it highlights all the effects of each setting. Moments like that give the comic real personality and feel like the reader is getting a slice of the real world at work.
Buy. This issue felt like a step up in terms of overall quality. Everything about this issue felt like it was just one notch better than the last issue. The characters felt more alive, the artwork felt just that more tighter and there was some great color work on display. If you liked the T.V. Shows ‘Justified’ and ‘Sons of Anarchy’, I would highly recommend this because this has the very same feel. In terms of craft and execution you would be hard pressed to find something done at a higher level than this. The team really seems to be dialed in on this issue.