Review – Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Original #1 (BOOM! Studios)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Ollie Masters
Artist: Luca Pizzari
Release Date: 10th August, 2016

“Ridin’ through this woooooorld…”

Ahh, Sons of Anarchy.  Whether you’re a passionate fan of SAMCRO or simply enjoyed watching the characters gradually sliding further and further into an irredeemable pit of violence and depravity over the course of seven seasons, there’s just something about the FX series that made for truly captivating viewing.

BOOM! Studios did a tremendous job with their ongoing Sons of Anarchy series, a series which came to an end late last year after twenty-five impressive issues.  Thankfully, it’s seems that they’re not done exploring this fascinating world just yet, with writer Ollie Masters and artist Luca Pizzari working alongside SoA showrunner Kurt Sutter to bring us Redwood Originals, a prequel of sorts that digs into the story of how eighteen year-old Jax Teller dealt with becoming a prospect in his late father’s Motorcycle Club.

The series picks up ten years before the first episode of the show, and we get to meet a good number of familiar faces, the majority of whom remain mostly unchanged from their television counterparts.  The main differences are, as you might expect, Jax himself – who comes across as a rash, impetuous ladies man, rather than the increasingly cold-blooded nutter he became in the latter stages of the series – and Opie, who still hasn’t made the decision to join the MC, and is currently working his way through college.

Story-wise, it has to be said that outside of the introductions themselves, there’s not all that much going on just yet.  Some stolen drugs, a bit of impetuous behaviour from Jax, and Clay Morrow puffing on his trademark cigar.  Masters is clearly taking things slowly here, which isn’t the worst idea in the world given the fact that the main reason a lot of readers will be picking this one up is to get to know the younger versions of their favourite characters.  Why go racing headlong into some overly contrived plot when you can have young Jax and Opie ragging on one another, Clay imparting a little “fatherly” wisdom to the son of the man he killed (is that still a spoiler? I dunno), and Tigs throwing out a gloriously “Tigs” line?

Pizzari’s artwork is solid and dynamic with a slightly caricaturized approach that works well.  The characters are instantly recognisable, which is half the battle in a story like this, and while there’s an occasional lack of detail in certain panels, the overall aesthetic of the book is very much in keeping with that of the much-loved show.  The one thing that perhaps hinders the visual side of the book just a little, however, is the colours of Adam Metcalfe.  Not from a technical point of view, but rather due to the washed-out choice of palette that gives the pages a fairly dull, lifeless feel at times.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting day-glo, brightly coloured insanity from a SoA comic, but there’s something a little too murky about this issue that really didn’t appeal to me at all.

That said, this is still an impressive opening chapter.  While the story itself isn’t really established just yet, this first issue does a solid job of (re)introducing us to the younger versions of these familiar characters in an exciting, accessible way.  For fans of the show, this is a pretty much essential look at how their favourite characters got to where they were at the beginning of episode one, and for casual readers, this is still a thoroughly entertaining tale packed with beer, bikes and bare-knuckle brawling.  Definitely one to keep an eye on as the series progresses.

Rating: 4/5.

If you want to find out more about Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Original, make sure to check out our interview with Ollie and Luca by CLICKING HERE.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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