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Briggs Land Volume 1: State of Grace Paperback – May 2, 2017
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About the Author
Brian Wood is the creator/co-creator and writer of numerous comic books and graphic novels, including DMZ, The Massive, Channel Zero, Demo, The Couriers, Northlanders, Rebels, and Briggs Land.
He co-wrote the video game screenplay for 1979 Revolution, and has three television projects in active development.
His work on company-owned and licensed work includes Star Wars, The X-Men, Conan The Barbarian, and Aliens. In his previous career as a graphic designer, his clients included Rockstar Games, Eidos Interactive, Nerve, and Nike.
He is most known for work dealing with near-future world building, but also for historical fiction, sci-fi, and female-friendly YA, all with strong socio-political topics and identity themes.
Brian lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. with his family.
Top customer reviews
A very well written series that is wonderfully drawn by Mack Chater. The Briggs are a family that has run a separatist community for a few generations in upstate New York near the Canadian border. The patriarch is in jail and at the very start of this series, his wife, Grace, decides that she is no longer going to visit him in prison and is taking over the family and community. She has three adult sons, all of whom are dangerous.
Social and political issues like immigration, minimum wage, surveillance, debt, firearms and others are discussed. The oldest son is a hard core white supremacist and his views on all of these issues are apparent. He makes for an easy villain, but it would be interesting to see this story without the bigot/racist aspect. It would lead for a more nuanced discussion about sovereign rights, separatists, and government intrusion. Making it more gray would be harder to writer, for sure, but it would be that much better.
My other criticism is easier to see: these separatists journey off their land constantly and interact with the local communities. They buy goods and services and use US currency. It's a logical flaw in their basic premise, but then again, the separatist/sovereign rights people are clearly off. Still, it would be more interesting for Mr. Wood to write about this group if they never journeyed off the land and avoided communication with the outside world. Again, this would make it harder to write.
Grace is the protagonist. She has some admirable qualities: smart, ambitious, hard working, hands on (we see her repair a fence), empathetic (she buys boots for a woman on her land whose husband wouldn't let her wear boots), and willing to change the status quo (but...as long as she is the one in power). To be clear, she married an awful man, raised at least two monstrous sons, and has been a key (if not the key) mover in Briggsland for the last 20 years.
I'm hoping that future volumes will discuss the government's desire to move against them while depicting they are hamstrung by legal issues and alt-right public support. That said, a motivated Governor or President could make swift work of them. A question that President Lincoln deftly handled: do separatists have the legal protections afforded to US citizens?
I appreciate if you've read this far. These thoughts and criticisms are the result of my reading an interesting book. It's well done and entertaining. It's worth your government-backed money and Amazon will deliver it quickly on government built roads.
The premise is perhaps as relevant as ever in that Briggs Land is a self-proclaimed sovereign nation within the United States. It has existed since the Civil War, and it's been a place anyone can go who wants to live an unfettered life. However, that simple life grew more complex as the years passed, and Briggs Land is now a magnet for extremism, white supremacy, corruption, and domestic abusers.
The current patriarch, Jim Briggs, has been incarcerated for years, but that hasn't stopped him from ruling Briggs Land with an iron fist. Yet, his wife, Grace, suspects he means to betray their people, and she can't allow that. Grace, who married Jim as a teenager, takes control of Briggs Land, and virtually no one is happy about it. She must contend with her murderous husband, her conniving grown sons, her treacherous daughters-in-law, her unpredictable citizens, and even the federal government. But trust me, if anyone can bend Briggs Land to her will, it's this woman.
Of course, as a graphic novel, I would be remiss to ignore Mack Chater's artwork. Chater's talent is uniquely suited to Briggs Land. It's a little rough, yet incredibly detailed and well rendered. It fits the tone of this book perfectly, as well as the characters themselves. I'm not sure I'd like this style in a Superman book, but this is nothing like a Superman comic. Now that I've experienced the first volume, I can't imagine anyone else drawing this title. It's a perfect match.
This is a deeply political book featuring violent, manipulative characters. In fact, I can't say anyone is particularly innocent, especially the protagonist, Grace Briggs. However, Grace does have a sense of justice deep within her, but it's still not apparent how universal that justice is. She is incredibly helpful to some in need, but I'm not convinced her charity is available to all.
Though the book may not sound like a must-read, believe me when I say it is a captivating story delivered with excellent pacing. Brian Wood is a master at using story to subtly explore contemporary political and societal issues. I quickly found myself engaged with the characters and utterly drawn into the unfolding plot. I completely recommend Briggs Land.