The second issue of a new series always seems to flag a little bit. The first issue is a sales pitch to show off the premise. Whatever conflict drives the series is right up in front, meaning that it also tends to be action-packed. By contrast, the second issue has to start building up the world and laying the foundation on future characters. In a way, that’s what happens here: having survived the attack on her life, Grace makes a deal with her children to try and hold together the family. It’s not an action-packed issue, so it lacks a bit of the oomph the first issue enjoyed. However, we get some really interesting hints about Grace, the feds who are chasing her, and some of the ordinary people living in Briggs Land.
Grace and Isaac survived the bombing from the last issue, however narrowly. Realizing that she doesn’t know who her enemies are, Grace tries to make a deal with her children to try and spare her household from any further bloodshed. She also starts hunting the men who came after her. We also learn a little bit more about the feds and why they’re watching the Briggs family so closely; they have their own agenda separate from the agency.
The revelations about the agents are interesting, not so much for the personal agenda but for why it is they feel the need to go after this family by themselves. One slips a hint that the government has been ignoring the family deliberately, even after Jim tried to assassinate the president of the United States. Why? Even by the standards of bureaucratic inertia in Washington, that seems egregious, so what else is at play? There's more at work in Washington than what we've been told so far.
At first glance, the negotiations between Grace, Caleb, and Noah come off as a little too easy. Grace presents what she wants, and they just accede to them with a little bit of haggling. They all seem to give in so easily, and it’s strangest for Grace, who is surrounded by potential traitors but seems to just brush them off. But is it more complicated than it first appears? I think so. The FBI agents have a long discussion about some of Grace’s own criminal history, and whether she might be more than just Jim’s housewife; while we never learn anything directly, they allude to her potentially being very dangerous.
Is Grace setting a trap of sorts, hoping to lure out a potential traitor by letting them get close and encouraging them to make a move? I’d like to think so. When she’s out investigating one of her attackers, she shows more concern for the wife than she does in actually trying to find the man. She lets herself be vulnerable perhaps to let somebody think that for themselves and grow overconfident. That isn’t to say she isn’t genuinely concerned by the plight of the woman she meets, only that she wants to use the woman in a much more subtle way than just holding her hostage to try and lure out the man.
One area I would like to see more attention is the village, which the characters discuss but never really explain. That kind of attention is welcome in a way because having the characters neatly explain what the village is and who lives there would probably make for awkward writing. That being said, we only get hints at the kind of people who live there, namely the meth addict who attacked Grace and his wife. Is the village made up of the same kinds of misfits who make up the whole family: wide-eyed utopians, misfits, and criminals? I kind of hope so.
So, while this issue doesn’t have the same “jump off the page” quality that the first had, it does present an interesting direction for Grace’s character to evolve. If it pans out, that ought to make for good reading.
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Briggs Land #2 Writer: Brian Wood Artist: Mack Chater Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital