By Shawn Warner
Brian Wood has always been one of those writers that all I needed to see was his name on the cover and that particular book would not only ended up on the counter with that week's new books, but inevitably on my pull list. Briggs Land was no different, I grabbed the first issue and raced home to read it as I had done with his Star Wars, DV8 and so many other great series penned by him, but Briggs Land was different and not at all in a bad way. Woods, for as good as he already was, was growing into an even better writer/ storyteller with this series.
When the first series ended it seemed to come from nowhere, like someone slammed on the brakes while doing sixty down a straightaway. I needed more of these characters, those down and dirty good ole boys that made the Sons of Anarchy look like the Brady Bunch. So before the second series' first issue ever saw print AMC had firmly secured the property for a television series. More and more frequently adept television execs have been turning to our world of sequential art, once ruled by spandex clad super-heroes, these same pulp pages are equally likely to tell the darker tales of realities' seedier corners as they are to take us to alien planets or caves containing nocturnal millionaire vigilantes. Perhaps that's why shows like Breaking Bad and Gotham share such a large viewing audience, scratch one Walter White and find a Lex Luthor hiding just beneath the surface.
Briggs Land: Lone Wolves #1 kicks off with the Briggs' hot shot attorney, Sam Sinclair expounding upon the wonders ofconstitutional amendments and how they are universally beneficial even to those who would deny their validity. Isaac Briggs has just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan when he stumbles upon two wayward backpackers hiking on one of the old Briggs' trails. Unbeknownst to the young backpackers they had found themselves in unwelcomed territory, Briggs' territory. Suddenly, an otherwise innocuous situation turns potentially deadly when Isaac's military training kicks in and takes control.
This series focuses on a dimly lit corner of America, a corner many Americans want to refuse exists at all. However there are those of a completely opposite perspective that thrive in that dimly lit area where the government is seen as an enemy to be distrusted at all costs. The Briggs are a family that represents that kind of conspiratorial thought process and are willing to fight and die for their nearly hundred square miles of rural terrain.
The writing on this book is top notch, Wood does a bang up job of creating a sense of tension surrounding Isaac, his recent return from military duty and his way of life over there is at odds with his family's somewhat chaotic lifestyle. This makes him infinitely relatable to many readers including this one. Wood writes this issue like a symphony from the clamorous opening of juxtaposed news reports and choppers to the eerie quiet and unease of the hiking scene; the highs and lows, the tiny silences leading to the huge crescendos of promised violence all work together like some satanic symphony to bring the reader along on this unholy journey to only Wood knows where. The divisive nature of the narrative is spot on in this age of Trump-ed up fake news and us against them pseudo-ethics that play out every night on the evening news. The decision not to let the innocent hikers go tears at the heart of the readership as we question why? Why not let them go? But Wood is a consummate storyteller and this will inevitably play out in fantastic fashion.
Charter's visuals are just realistic enough to bring the entire plot into focus. His surgical use of detail when it comes to the everyday objects and settings kick up the reality yet another notch. Charter, like Wood plays with the turmoil and serenity juxtaposing the chaos of the battlefield with the serene forest that could all too soon be filled with thunderous gunfire.
The politics of this series has been a driving force since page one of the first series creating intrigue and keeping us engrossed in this family's tumultuous life. The art is poetic and lavishly details the settings as well as the characters of this modern Shakespearean drama. I love this series and can't say enough good things about it, however the first issue of this new series was a bit short in the word count for me and because of that I was finished reading it before the gravity of the events had settled upon me that is the only reason I scored this otherwise perfect debut issue of the second series a 4 instead of a 5.
Briggs Land: Lone Wolves #1
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Mack Chater
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics