Sopranos of Secession – “Briggs Land” #1 (Review)

BRILAN-1-FC-FNL-4x6-f6dab-59eb3Briggs Land #1
Dark Horse Comics

Written by: Brian Wood
Art by: Mark Chater & Lee Loughridge

Brain Wood made a name for himself with the thought provoking and challenging series DMZ. In Briggs Land, he returns to the idea of citizens rising up against the United States government, but does so on a smaller and more personal scale. Wood charts a delicate course in this title by creating a group of flawed protagonists with potentially extreme political views without demonizing them or their political beliefs. The setup of Briggs Land is simple enough, a family and like minded “family” members create a compound in the forests of upstate New York to remove themselves from the tyranny and interference of the US government. But through time and greed this independent group has actively sought to undermine the government through overt aggression and subtle racketeering. Wood brings the reader into the series at a significant moment of change and upheaval.  This sets up a power struggle similar to many narratives in organized crime.

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Within the first few pages of the issue, this family feels similar to stories told by Mario Puzo or films by Martin Scorsese. Fans of crime familys who struggle over direction and control will feel comfortable from the start. Wood deviates from the genre by framing the family around their political beliefs. Two law enforcement officers help provide narration and perspective on the family’s history and activities as terrorism rather than simple racketeering. The patriarch, monarch, and sons all have different roles to play and are positioned in ways where conflict over control of the direction of the family could be the driving narrative.Briggs14-5cb7b

Mack Chater’s artwork is sublime and gritty and fits well with characters living outside the law. Lee Loughridge’s washed out inks are essential to establishing the feel of this world. While the characters want to be left alone, they are also passionate about their vision of society. Chater and Loughridge’s art accomplishes this feel for the reader.  A more realistic or detailed world would take away from the narrative and could make their characters’ world seen too contrived and over the top.

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After this year’s San Diego Comic Con, there was buzz about this series and AMC’s announcement of a Briggs Land TV series. The buzz is well deserved. There is an engaging story to be told here, but whether it is a sustained narrative or self-contained story is hard to determine. This first issue sets up a world of possibilities, but it is also a strong candidate for a trade paperback.  Inching these characters forward month by month may not sustain the narrative or readers.  But Wood has proven in DMZ, that those readers that stick around are in for a heck of a ride.

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