Review – Sons of Anarchy #16 (BOOM! Studios)

SonsofAnarchy16_coverAPublisher: BOOM! Studios
Written: Ed Brisson
Illustrated: Mattias Bergara
Colours: Paul Little
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Tony Infante
Release Date: 17th December, 2015

‘Sons Of Anarchy’, the TV show, was always an ambiguous entertainment for me, despite its good writing and constant supply of capable, often brilliant actors. At its core lay the blood-soaked and thoroughly corrupt notion of the modern motorcycle gang(distinct from ‘Club’, though the gangs call themselves that, too). These gangs have their origins in the 1940’s, in a culture of motorcycle maintenance clubs formed by mostly ex-military men frustrated by civilian life who longed to embody some spirit of freedom and brotherhood and wished to belong to some sort of unit again. In many cases, however, they have evolved in a rapidly changing society where the once semi-admirable notion of ‘Outlaw’ can be used by members to justify, to themselves and their compatriots, heinous actions and conspiracies, as the TV show often dramatised to great effect.

The dark side of motorcycle clubs has been on record for a long time, with the killing of Meredith Hunter by members of a Hell’s Angel security team at the Rolling Stones concert in Altamont recorded in the film ‘Gimme Shelter’, and Hunter S Thompson’s book ‘Hell’s Angels’ being probably the most famous in pop culture. It doesn’t take long to find examples of more modern mayhem associated with bike gangs on the internet, either, just Google ‘Mom Boucher’, or ‘Hells Angels Bandidos Pagans’ and you’ll come across an astonishing array of tales of murder and public outbreaks of violence that will leave you wondering how they survived into the modern era.

Kurt Sutter’s show was immensely watchable, although it could have done with some severe trimming and went out a couple of seasons earlier, and elements such as a lengthy detour to Ireland as the gang sought out a child kidnapped by the IRA felt like a postponing of the inevitable. Had it stuck closer to Dan Harmon’s now famous pop aphorism ‘Five Seasons and a Movie’, it would probably be better remembered.

However, it was ultimately more than just a mindless glorification of a corrupting culture, as shown by its portrayal of the females whose lives were entwined with the club. Also, characters such as Nero, the Hispanic former gang member, and Charlie Unser, a semi-retired lawman with a talent for picking out shades of grey, often gave voice to deep concerns about what effects the club was having on its members, their families and the town in which they lived, Charming, CA. A gripping final season, too, left viewers in no doubt of how lost and hypocritical its main character, Jax Teller, had become. In particular, he relied heavily on a pact made with a white supremacist gang, while also seeking to finally allow black members into the club.

As for the comic, I have to say that, going by this issue, I doubt I’ll bother with any of the others in this series. Ed Brisson (Sheltered) offers a self contained, done in one, story that’s main point of interest is in its look at how club members use their status individually to make money. Merely entertaining without being particularly thought provoking, it is a story about the character Juice and his involvement with a legal cannabis clinic, along with the shaky standing of his relationship with his co-owner. The story takes the usual twists and turns with betrayal, misdirection, and and a slight twist in the ending that utilises a suitable characterisation of Juice, before he became the show’s most haunted and tragic figure, that is.

The art, by Mattias Bergara (Grimm universe) isn’t particularly engaging, either, and in fact wouldn’t have looked out of place in one of the many comics trying to copy the ‘Image Style’ in the mid-90’s, which doesn’t bode well for a story that only calls for minimal action in the form of a a guy getting shoved in a bar and a minor car crash. The colours, by Paul Little, are quite muted, though to be fair the story plays out entirely in night scenes. The cover is average, and in fact I wouldn’t have realised it was by a different artist from the interiors had I not had to make note of the creators for this review.

Unlike many other recent comic tie-ins, such as Dark Horse’s ‘Buffy’ or ‘The X-Files’, there is no sense that this comic ties in to the world of the show in any significant way, other than being officially licensed. Therefore, I would recommend ‘Sons Of Anarchy #16’ only to fans of the show desperate for more stories of the world Kurt Sutter and co created, but to anyone else it would offer only a passing amusement that isn’t really worth the cover price.

Rating: 1/5.

The writer of this piece was: Jimi Longmuir
You can follow Jimi on Twitter @jimijokk

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