S.A.M.C.R.O: Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original. It’s the acronym that fans of Kurt Sutter’s Shakespearian crime drama know well and carries a wide standard to bare for any supplemental material.
BOOM!’s SOA comics went the range of bad to average to brilliant, and that was influenced by how closely the comics followed the canon of the show. It took a long while and a change of writers, but the comic eventually reached the levels that it should’ve been from the get-go. The benefit this series has is that its set before the show began when the canon is very loose on detail. With the title, I found myself hoping the series would detail the founding nine members of SAMCRO after leaving Vietnam but instead, it’s the story of Jax Teller when he was just starting out as a prospect for the Sons.
Ollie Masters crafts a good setting for the story, where Jax’s true love has left and Clay and Gemma have secured control of the club and its operations. Except for Jax’s excessive anger, which is not unbelievable considering the future Jax did seem overly mellow throughout the course of the show, the characters all feel refreshingly true to themselves. Clay is conniving and follows his own beat, Gemma is his shoulder to fall back on, Bobby is the voice of reason and Tig is the voice that says the most disturbing things ever.
The art has a vague Fraction/Aja Hawkeye vibe, with a bold, plupy style but a widely expressive color palate. Greens, reds and oranges all are used on many panels crafting a nice interplay between warm and cool colors. It’s immediately effective in creating a foreground, midground, and background with wide panel crowd scenes while also highlighting the stories main characters. It’s far and away one of the most singular styles I’ve seen in a SOA comic where Pizzari and Metcalfe seem like strong creators in their own right who together work beautifully.
The story is a decent opening to the series until the climax and ending, where the plot takes this crazy left turn which is normal for SOA but if isn’t part of the arc’s story, it feels sudden and unsatisfying. The issue itself is pretty solid with most of its story and art and it shows a good understanding of the cast and their various idiosyncrasies. The story lacks the gruesome edge in the previous title detailing a spotlight on lesser examined characters, but manages to hew closer to what a typical story of SOA would be. My interest is peaked and as a devoted fan of SAMCRO, I’m always up for more stories starring my favorite band of outlaws.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent