I need to preface this with a huge disclaimer: I’m a HUGE fan of Sons of Anarchy. I binge watched the entire series in a few short weeks in order to watch the final season live. Then, I watched it all again, hoping to catch things I missed the first time. Like so many, I exalted when the “real” bad guys got theirs and I felt the pain when the anti-heroes of SAMCRO each went to meet Mr. Mayhem.
When the opportunity to read the new SOA comic by Ollie Masters and Luca Pizzari (BOOM! Studios) came about, I jumped to review it. I was truly desperate to get something new of my old friends. And, as it turned out, it was going to be something old on my old friends. A little turn-back-the-clock time to when Jax was a Prospect and the death of JT was still a little raw; a time when Tara had just left Charming and Opie was still in college and not yet in the club.
I have to admit; I had hoped for more. I liked it…mostly because I like the characters already. I knew what to expect. But I guess that was my biggest problem. I know these characters and I have expectations for them. So, when I didn’t see the club acting like the club, it gave me pause.
But let’s step into the story so I can explain myself.
Issue #1 spends most of its time re-introducing us to younger versions of characters that we already know. Jax and Opie as 19/20-year-olds – Tig, Chibs, Bobby, Clay, Gemma, and Piney acting very much the same, in the same roles as when we first met them back in 2008. The bulk of the issue sets up the personality types we can expect to see in stories that will lead up to the moment we are introduced to the television characters.
But there is one notable inclusion in this plotline. We see, presumably, the first time SAMCRO is offered the opportunity to move drugs, when they are offered heroine instead of cash for a large gun shipment. Clay takes the deal, over the objections of the guys, and so opens a chapter in the club’s sordid history that takes 7 seasons of brilliant television to close.
As I said, I liked it. But I was a little unsure. I don’t blame writer Ollie Masters, who cut his chops on genre writing with Image Comics’ The Kitchen and who handles the characters with deft and care…and I don’t blame Luca Pizzari, whose art is both sharp and powerful. I blame myself for expecting to see the TV show on the pages of this well-crafted book.
Masters is decidedly not Kurt Sutter, and that’s a good thing. Sutter is a mastermind of TV-MA mayhem and might not translate well to this medium. No, we leave that to Masters, who knows how to tell a story. And we leave it to Pizzari, who can seemingly draw any emotion Masters projects for these known characters. And we cannot leave out Adam Metcalf, whose colors really set the mood. His choices are spot on, and I applaud that.
After starting out unsure, I look forward to the continuing saga of the early days of the SAMCRO we know and love…and miss.