Review: Briggs Land: Lone Wolves TPB

*Minor Spoilers Below*

If you are a citizen of the United States, you can own your own land, but what do you really own? What can you do on that land? Can you form your own laws? As most people find out, the answer is no. But what about your own country? This is a concept that has been discussed before. People have discussed Texas leaving the United States, and just recently the same was mentioned regarding California. Everyone knows about The Civil War of course. So the idea of a separate set of ideals and laws inside of the United States isn’t new. But what about a large swath of private land that is within a state forming it’s own nation, instead of the entire state itself? Could they have their own rules, borders, and citizens immune from the greater United States federal laws? These are the questions that Briggs Land ask and begin to answer.

This isn’t a standalone comic series. It is actually the successor to the original Briggs Land comic that ended at #6 from the same creative team that gives us this book, Briggs Land: Lone Wolves. This trade can really be seen as Briggs Land #7-12, but instead, they went with the Lone Wolves subtitle. Perhaps it is the fact that #1 issues sell more, but for whatever reason they decided to forgo the numbering, and take this route. Either way, the story continues and it is excellent.

Brian Wood crafts a tense story that shows a community of multiple generations living off the land, and how the United States government, DEC, FBI, and everyone else has to deal with it. The story mostly follows Grace Briggs, and her three sons who help her run the operation which takes place in Upstate NY, not far from the Canadian border. Grace has been trying to fix the things her husband Jim (who is in prison) have made over the years. The community is attracting the junkies from all over the area, having turmoil within, and is constantly on the watch of the police, ATF, FBI, and more. You can draw similar while not direct correlations to Waco, Texas and the tragedy there, the recent Buddy family standoff in Oregon, and the Montana Freeman in the 1990s. That isn’t to say this story borrows everything from those, but the theme of a tense situation of law enforcement and private citizens has its precedent.

That isn’t to say that Briggs Land is the first form of media to tackle this topic, but it isn’t something you see often in comics. Sure, the medium has changed from just pulp noir and superhero comics over the years, but even for the ever changing scope of comic books, Briggs Land: Lone Wolves feels fresh and new. The show is currently in development at AMC, with the writer of the comic, Brian Wood writing the pilot.

As I have stated in previous single issue reviews that I did for Briggs Land, I am always impressed by the artwork that Mack Chatter creates. He has a very realistic approach, and captures emotion perfectly. I am happy to report that he continues the trend of fantastic work in this book. I found myself looking at the facial expressions of the characters in quieter scenes to try to see if I could interpret what each character was feeling or thinking. Sure I had no way to know if my perception was accurate, but I found it so interesting. Everyone feels real, and layered. He and Brian are a great team, and I look forward to more work from them in the future.

Vanesa R. Del Ray and Werther Dell’Edera also give unique styles with their artwork for the book. While I prefer the book to be Wood and Chatter, these two artists did enough with their material to stand out and be recognizable from the rest of the book. I tend to prefer one artist on a book, as it makes for a seamless reading experience and makes everything seem to flow better, but I liked both of their work, and they both provide something new for the series. Lee Loughridge soars on colors, and I have to mention the excellent use of muted tones like light blues, browns, greens, and more that are used in this book so effectively. Instead of just a deep green for a foliage scene, Loughridge will use different shades of the color to really bring life to whatever the artist has drawn. There are also some very good uses of only a few colors being used in a panel, with one being dominant. For example, the inside of a store the characters are in may seem all yellow, with a little green and blue to give a very indie feel to the scene. It isn’t used all of the time, but when it is, it is done very well.

I recommend this book not just to anyone who has read the first Briggs Land, but to new readers as well. You should read the first trade, Briggs Land: State of Grace not only to know what is going on, but also because it is also excellent. The philosophical questions raised in this book are fun to chew on. How free are we? And how far is a community, or even a private citizen allowed to go before the government intervenes. I am excited where this series goes from here, and have high hopes that the tv show happens and happens soon. It is also exciting to read a story that takes place around where I grew up. Seeing cities like Albany, Malone, Utica, and more bring a smile to my face, even in the dark world that Briggs Land presents.

Story: Brian Wood Art: Mack Chatter & Vanesa R. Del Ray & Werther Dell’Edera Colors: Lee Loughridge Letterer: Nate Pikos of Blambot Cover: Mack Chatter & Brian Wood
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review