If the first issue of Briggs Land left me a little skeptical, Briggs Land #2 has almost entirely lost me. The story picks up shortly after the events of the first issue, with Grace picking up the pieces and forming a plan in wake of the attack on her home. Despite ending last month with questions about her sons’ loyalties, they are all gathered and present at the dining table.
As Grace negotiates with her sons, it’s clear that while they don’t appear to have been involved in the attack, they aren’t comfortable having their mother, a woman, holding their leashes. On one hand, her negotiations seem somewhat natural for a woman who is slowly stepping out of her husband’s domineering shadow and into her own spotlight. On the other, she doesn’t quite seem ready or cut out for the tough-talking, quick-striking demeanor she’s going to need to bring these dogs to heel.
In her investigation to discover who is responsible, we’re treated to a scene in which Grace speaks with the wife of one of the citizens of Briggs Land. The woman is, of course, horribly mistreated by her husband (to a comically extreme measure), and Grace seems shocked by this. Which is highly problematic for me. It seems as though the men of Briggs Land keep their wives in a shockingly insular sphere (i.e. restricted to their homes), but it still seems odd that in such a small community, Grace wouldn’t already know her fellow malcontents. It makes her seem even more removed from her fellow females, and less relatable for us, as readers.
The agents on the Briggs’ family’s trail continue to devise ways to “catch” the Briggs family, and the male agent continues to dismiss Grace Briggs as a possible leader or avenue, because he’s a man. It’s the female agent who suspects that perhaps Grace is more than just a barefoot housewife. Because misogyny.
The biggest problem I have with Briggs Land is that I so desperately want to like it. You have, in Grace Briggs, the opportunity to create a dynamic, compelling character that we don’t often see in popular media. Very rarely do we see a gun-toting secessionist female character. Typically we’re presented with the insane male version of the character, and it’s the female character who wants to put an end to that. Grace Briggs would be one of the few female, conservative nutjob characters, and could present a very interesting point of view and set of goals.
Instead, we’re given a female character whose biggest struggle, thus far, is misogyny, and not just a little misogyny. Every character who isn’t Grace (or her younger son) seems incapable of carrying dialog that isn’t dripping with over-the-top misogyny. The fact that Grace is a gun-toting criminal seems largely cast to the wayside as she fights for her right to leadership in the face of the patriarchy that her husband built, while she watched*, for more than 20 years. I visited to Briggs Land for the promise of a different brand of criminal-as-main-character, and all I’m getting is yet another reminder that “Misogyny is bad, mmmmmkay?” It’s a worthy message, delivered by better writers, in better series.
*I find this highly problematic because we still have not been given a catalyst for her sudden change of heart. Her husband has been in jail for more than a decade, during which time she could have easily seized control. It’s as though she woke one morning and decided “Mother of God, misogyny is bad!”