Written by: Brian Wood
Art by: Mack Chater
Colours by: Lee Loughridge
Letters by: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover by: Matthew Woodson
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
The second chapter in the Briggs Land trilogy starts here
Brian Wood (Conan the Barbarian, Aliens: Defiance, Rebels) hit comic book gold back in August 2016 with Briggs Land: State of Grace. Briggs Land is roughly 100 square miles of rural wilderness, founded in the years following the American Civil War, currently owned by Jim Briggs. Briggs is the head of the largest secessionist movement in the United States, but he has to rely on his wife and adult sons to run the compound while he’s incarcerated.
In Briggs Land: State of Grace, we saw Grace Briggs take control of the compound from her estranged husband after she learned of his intent to trade the whole lot to the US government in return for his freedom. When Grace wrests control from her husband, she must deal with the blowback from her community, and from within her own family. All this is happening under the watchful eye of US Federal agents, who are waiting eagerly for any opportunity to sieze control of the compound and arrest its inhabitants.
Freedom, Family, Faith, Equality…
Briggs Land: Lone Wolves #1 opens up some time after Grace Briggs made her leadership aspirations known to Jim Briggs. The Federal Government, after seeing their sweet amnesty deal with Jim Briggs slipping through their fingers, has increased pressure on Grace Briggs and the inhabitants of Briggs Land.
In the opening pages, Brian Wood uses a news broadcast to bring new readers up to speed, without clubbing us over the head with exposition. The Briggs Land residents are invoking their Constitutional rights to be left alone to live in peace. The irony is thick, that a secessionist movement would use the founding document of the country they wish to deny as the basis for their right to do so.
Flash back four weeks. To quiet the noise in his head after returning from war, Isaac Briggs, Grace and Jim’s veteran son, hikes wilderness trails to stay grounded. On this particular occasion, he brings his nephew James along to see the old trails, used by generations of Briggs to smuggle booze during prohibition, weed, guns, and draft dodgers desperate to reach Canada rather than fight in Vietnam.
On their hike, Isaac and James encounter a couple who has inadvertently wandered onto the compound searching for the Adirondack Trail. Isaac’s PTSD and paranoia kick in and he marches the couple back to the heart of the compound at gunpoint. If the opening pages set in present time are any indication, the situation goes South quickly.
Mark Chater’s artwork has maintained a documentary feel throughout the series. Chater’s character design and ambulation sell the subtlest cues in Woods’ script, betraying hints of emotion around the hard edges of the Briggs clan. Combined with the gritty, muted earth tones by Lee Loughridge, the overall effect is almost photo real.
While you won’t need to have read State of Grace to get into this backwoods Godfather saga, you will want to pick up the trade paperback after reading this first chapter in Lone Wolves.