Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Brian Wood
Artists: Mack Chater (Pencils and Inks), Lee Loughridge (Colours)
Released: 17th August 2016
Secession is a funny old thing. On the one hand, you’ve got ostensibly noble ideals driving it – the desire to live in peace, to be self-sufficient, to carve out a little piece of the Earth that is yours and no-one else’s, to be free from oppression. It all sounds rather grand, doesn’t it? At least, until you push aside the shiny ideals at the front of the closet, and find the monsters that’re created when you’re (sort of) free to make up the rules as you go along.
With Briggs land, Brian Wood seems to have set out to do just that – presenting us with the titular secessionist state, and informing us as we go in that of late, the place has turned into the home of a vast criminal empire, harbouring villains and heinous racists aplenty. It’s all being coordinated by Jim Briggs, despite him being serving a life sentence, with his wife, our protagonist Grace, relaying his orders to the outside world. The spark that sets the story proverbial aflame? Grace decides she’s not doing that any more.
Wood’s script is Valyrian-steel sharp, perfectly paced for the first of three issues, a masterclass in first act scene-setting. There’s a bitterness to the narrative that strikes an unusual, albeit intriguing note – everything doused in shades of grey, right down to Loughridge’s wonderfully moody colourwork. Chater’s lines don’t present your usual gamut of Hollywood ‘ugly’ folk – his rendering makes these characters feel like real people, with receding hairlines, wrinkles, split-ends and flab. The art and script both weave together to give out a similar vibe to the first season of Breaking Bad – a superficially nice life with trouble brewing just under the surface. It’s wonderfully, grimly compelling.
Ultimately, I’m not certain that as a single issue this immediately screams ‘buy me’ – it feels like it would be akin to stating that the first 40 minutes or so of Michael Mann’s Heat can absolutely be bought separately, then watched and enjoyed solely on its own merit. Indeed, it seems like it’s only going to be fair to give the series an absolute rating as and when it finds its end – and whilst it’s not clear exactly where and how we’ll end up there, this first act does give a sense that it’s going to be a hell of a ride. So the score below is a placeholder, really – check back in a couple of months when it’s all said and done for a more final say!
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The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24