Christopher Cantwell and Germán García’s Briar is a fantastic reimagining of a classic fairy tale. An adventure, an epic, and a work steeped in worldbuilding, the second issue is out this week, continuing Briar Rose’s journey after waking from her slumber. Expect fantastical new locations, people, and further exploration of what has happened to the world.
Briar #2 opens with a ritual. Truth be told, much of this issue is about those who wield magic or once did and have lost it. We soon learn that ritual is being conducted on a knight seeking to find Briar, and now he has an edge in locating her with the blood of faeries. Smash cut to Briar and her companion knee-deep in a marsh. The Burbly Marshes, to be exact, is just one new location traversed in this issue. Fans of fairy tales and fantasies with quests like in Labyrinth should enjoy this narrative.
It seems Briar has been asleep for a very long time, and Cantwell and García aim to show us how things have changed via a group of ancestors of fae and the quaggy Coven. Once again, how killer are the names in this book?
Also great is the dialogue, which feels natural but not overly flowery or outlandish. A retort like “Like I give one fat drop of sh*t” really hammers home the point. There’s also a significant bit of dialogue from Spider to Briar about not trying that has a cadence that’s at once beautiful and impactful as Cantwell phrases the sentence perfectly so it ends on a high note.
As far as the story is concerned outside of the worldbuilding, we get some new info on Briar and Spider and their purpose. They seem to find new directions in this issue that may make their bond more substantial than strangers as they were when they entered the issue. The villain who opened the book gets closer, and it’ll be exciting to see where the adventure goes next.
The adventure continues to delight thanks to García’s art. There are single panels that you might skim over quickly if you read comics that way, but believe me, lingering and taking it in will reward you. Colors by Mateus Lopes enhance the already compelling environments, like the marsh, which could have felt flat but has hues of green to add extra life to the surface of the water or the vegetation in the background. In a recounting of the murder of the mothers, the montaging works nicely with colors bringing out each violent act. An arm stuck with nails leads to a broken body at its base further enhances the montage, and that is just one detail amongst many fine ones.
My only gripe with this issue is the lack of action or movement between panels. Much of this issue is focused on characters standing and recounting things or talking to each other. There is a bit of action near the end, but it’s a short getaway that’s too quick to allow for excitement.
Briar #2 is a fantastic follow-up to the first issue, further fleshing out its characters and revealing new things about what has happened to the world. Add vivid dialogue and art, and you have a tale that beautifully blends a magical world and a deeply involving story.
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