Briggs Land Volume 1: State of Grace
Brian Wood, script; Mack Chater, art; Lee Loughridge, colors; Tula Lotay, chapter break art
Dark Horse Books, 2017

The largest secessionist community in the United States is Briggs Land, a community created by Jim Briggs: an uncompromising white supremacist serving a life sentence in a Federal penitentiary for attempting to assassinate the President of the United States. Jim has been running the community from prison, like a mafia boss. When his wife Grace decides to take over the community, she sets off a family and community crisis. These are people who believe that women should be subservient to men, and most of them are also racist to the core. Grace believes in the core values of independence from government and freedom from debt--a self-sufficient lifestyle--but not in violence, racism and hate.

She has her work cut out for her, to put it mildly. Her three sons are the first challenge (well, after dodging an assassination attempt ordered by her husband). Only one of the three is behind her from the start, and the eldest had expected to succeed his father as head of the community. There are also two rogue FBI agents in the mix. So Grace works to show the face of leadership to the community, while also working behind the scenes. The secret work may be the most important in the end. She begins to establish a new relationship with the women of Briggs Land, and races to outmaneuver her husband to divorce him and keep control of the Land.

So this is a rich narrative, with lots of moving parts. In some ways it recalls Wood's Vertigo series DMZ, but here the political aspects take place on a more intimate scale. Chater is a great partner in the story telling: his realistic style makes all of the characters distinctive, and his facial expressions aid the narrative. His style reminds me of frequent Wood collaborator Ryan Kelly. It took me awhile to catch up with the series, but I am looking forward to more.

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I loved this book, and I loved vol. 2 every bit as much. I am really intrigued by stories of these militia groups, like the real-life Ruby Ridge, and the fictional Gerhardt family in Fargo Season 2. This book really scratched that itch. It's such a grey area, you find yourself kind of rooting for the bad guys in a way.

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