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‘Briggs Land Volume 1: State of Grace’ – Advance Trade Paperback Review

Briggs Land is a raging thunderstorm, and the characters contained inside, particularly main character Grace Briggs, are lightning bolts – and you never know when a powerful strike will take place.

Briggs Land is the anti-establishment of everything else in the real world, for the most part. There is a self-contained community, defended by heavily armed private citizens, and a code of honor that holds true to everyone keeping the lands safe and untainted. What if a threat comes from within? What will happen to a life where people haven’t lived anywhere else? Grace proves her leadership by taking the reins from her husband, forcefully, and the cracks from within start to show that the intrinsic values holding this group together stem from a much more sinister place.

Creator and writer Brian Wood crafts a world filled with pivotal, dramatic moments affecting the direction and decisions of the Briggs family and those connected in some way. Wood identifies how things were done prior to Grace’s decision, and how she begins to change things for the better. The former framework of the story seems to revolve around God, men in control, and women supporting their husbands without question – unless she ever wants to see the outside of her home again and the simple comfort of shoes – further demonstrating a measure of control that’s twisted. Along with being contained within guarded gates, weapons and bigotry seem to control some of those living inside. It’s made painfully clear with Nazi tattoos and a vulgar, racist tirade from a Briggs family member, identifying for you the complexity within the family, as well as a baseline of what to expect moving forward with this person’s motivations.

Volume 1: State of Grace includes the first six issues of this series from Dark Horse Comics, and the dynamics between the characters is compelling.  The reader can’t help but feel the edginess with each turn of the page. After the first chapter, it’s completely obvious why AMC is bringing this comic book series to television. Characters must decide if they will follow Grace or her husband, who happens to be in prison, and the magnitude of the ensuing, intense decisions does not sway Grace from establishing positive change – making it a place that’s “supposed to be better” than the rest of civilization. Artist Mack Chater amplifies the story by emphasizing particular moments in these scenes: brother facing brother, one’s hand on his holster and the other placing his hand in the air to make it clear – you are not going any further until I know, “Are we good?” The unknown elements surrounding the hostile takeover, and the potential divisiveness within the family, provide a building animosity that seems inevitable to avoid.

Colors are illustrated by Lee Loughridge and Jeremy Colwell, lettering by Nate Piekos of Blambot®, and art for each chapter created by Tula Lotay. Chater and Wood create the cover page, vivid with red, white, and blues, as Grace stands at the center with her kids underneath, which is indicative of the conflict brewing within this trade paperback.

Briggs Land Volume 1: State of Grace is available for pre-order prior to its release on Wednesday, April 19, 2017.


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