Read This Book- ‘Briar #1’ from BOOM! Studios

I was watching a video online the other day, where the hosts of a comic show were talking about Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This phase has been the most widely criticized, and Is also seen as the most divisive for viewers. Some blame this on so-called “woke” politics in the films, others blame the overall quality of the narratives, and still more attribute this to the fact that most of the big names that made the other phases great are no longer part of the films; but maybe there’s another reason this phase has flopped.

See, the point that many of the commenters made was that, there really isn’t anything terrible about the recent MCU movies, but they do all have one flaw in common; they’re all superhero movies. These films have become such a part of our world that they have gone from being amazing spectacles to just run of the mill ordinary.

People, in many ways, are becoming bored with superheroes.

And we can see that Marvel is aware of this. There has been a real effort to try to make their latest batch of superhero fare “Superhero + Something Else” films. Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness of was “Superhero + Horror”, while Thor: Love & Thunder was another run at “Superhero + Comedy.” She-Hulk, currently streaming on Disney+, is “Superhero + Sitcom.”

Sometimes this works, but for the most part it’s been pretty lackluster, because at their core no matter what they try to add, it’s still a superhero story, and those tropes always bleed through.

In a way, this reminds me of Watchmen. Yes, I know, I always try to turn back to Alan Moore. That hobo wizard owns my soul for sure.

But see, in Watchmen, because superheroes were real, people stopped wanting to read about them in comics and other media, and instead pirate comics were the popular media of the day. As superheroes became ordinary, people still longed for the extrodinary.

The reviewers I watched were hyping up how many of them, having grown weary of superhero fare, have instead turned to fantasy stories. This is an impulse I can definitely understand. When I was growing up, King Arthur was a central figure in a lot of the tales and stories I read. When I was completing my MA in English, most of the courses I took were in medieval stories and Arthurian Legend, and like a lot of kids of my generation, The Hobbit was required reading.

Comics, especially mainstream comics, have been a little lax with trying to intergrade these narratives into their works. It’s not to say there are not stand out examples of the fantasy genre from the Big Two publishers, but it has been a long time since they have released a fantasy title that really hit hard with an audience. Once again, it’s on my beloved indies to take up the slack, which takes us to today’s book.

Today I will be reviewing Briar #1 from BOOM! Studios. It’s a fantasy reimagining of the tale of Briar Rose, and if this first issue is any indication, it’s going to be a series that you do not want to sleep on.

So let’s crack into issue #1, and see why Briar needs to join your weekly pull!

Here’s the blurb:

Wake Up to a Living Nightmare in a Post-Apocalyptic Retelling of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ This September 2022

BOOM! Studios announced today BRIAR, a brand new four-issue limited comic book series from Eisner Award-nominated writer, producer, and director Christopher Cantwell (Regarding the Matter of Oswald’s Body, Iron Man, Halt and Catch Fire), rising artist Germán García (Ka-Zar: Lord of the Savage Land), and colorist Matheus Lopes (Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow) that reimagines the classic fairy tale as an epic dark fantasy adventure.

What if Sleeping Beauty never got her happily ever after… and instead had to save herself? Set in a brutal fantasy world that time forgot, this isn’t the fairy tale you know! 

I’m not going to lie, retold fairytales are definitely my jam. I was a big fan of Fables, and Briar hits me just as hard. I love the twists and turn in a tale like this, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Our first issue opens with Briar Rose, a beautiful and clever princess that is beloved throughout the land.

You know where the story goes from here. Briar pricks her finger, falls into a deep sleep, and only a kiss from her prince charming will awaken her.

But what if something went…awry?

See, in this version the prince never actually wakes her up. Instead he joins her father’s war against all other nations, and Briar is left to slumber for 100 year, well after the fall of her father’s empire.

She wakes in a world that seems much more in line with works like The Witcher, complete with murders, rapist, cursing, and evil. The old ways have fallen, and the new order is terrifying to our princess who just wants to surive.

Christopher Cantwell is a master storyteller, and the first issue of Briar had me flipping pages at lightspeed so I could find out what would happen next. And then, after I read it, I went back and spent serious time looking at the beautiful art from German Garcia.

A beautiful blend of high fantasy and horror, this is the perfect book for fans of The Witcher, Fables, or Game of Thrones.

It’s time for a serious fantasy rebirth in comics, and titles like Briar should lead the way.

Alright folks, I am knee deep in grading essays today, so I must return to the learning mines. Next week I’ll be diving into more spooky books perfect for the Halloween season (although, again, not gonna lie, I’m a Santa Bro so while I celebrate the spooky time, I’m just waiting for Christmas to arrive 🙂 )

Until next time, Stay Safe.

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