Tony Black reviews Lucas Stand #3…
Lucas heads to Deadwood circa 1879 and begins to question Gadriel’s motives.
One of the most exciting new comic ventures this year, from Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter (and Catrin Kittridge), Lucas Stand in its first two issues has very much been in a phase of establishment and consolidation, as we meet the razor edged drug addict, on the cusp of suicide, rescued from oblivion by quite sinister being Gadriel in order to travel through time hunting demons, as penance for his crimes and past misdeeds over the years. Shot through with Sutter’s pulp American nihilism, not to mention one suspects a strong vein of autobiography given the writer is well known for battling his own demons, Lucas Stand’s journeys through time took in WW2 Nazi Germany yet oddly enough Sutter & Kittridge deliver the strongest issue yet not with the seemingly perfect concoction of Nazi demons, but rather the Wild West.
Arriving in the town of Deadwood in the 1880’s, inhabiting the body of a man seemingly wanted for murder and to be hung by the neck until dead, Lucas is plunged in this issue on a superbly written continued battle not just against a demonic menace plaguing the dark, Old West town, but equally his own troubled soul as he truly begins to face the pain and strife of cold turkey, in a world surrounded by the possible salve of opium. Sutter manages not just to convey Lucas’s descent into this internal abyss–his dialogue constantly punctuated by a non-intrusive inner monologue which just adds context and almost novel-like texture to proceedings–but also the underlying issues of race in late 19th century America, as Lucas gains an ally in Dedman, a mysterious Comanche hunter, who ends up helping him against lawless brigands and ultimately the demonic villain of the piece.
There’s enough depth in Sutter & Kittridge’s writing however to make said villain, when revealed, not black & white in his evil motivations – he’s convinced he’s helping people, and that adds another layer of moral difficulty to Lucas as he battles his own demons and attempts to do the right, good thing as he struggles against his own violent inner nature. Supported by gloomy, atmospheric panels from Jesus Hervas, who really nails that Old West sense of frontier desperation and classic Western brutality, it’s a terrific solo issue which weaves into the bigger character story & deeper mysteries before delivering a hugely interesting cliffhanger, which may plunge Lucas into his most personal mission yet, in a time period perfect for a comic like this.
For a comic which has started well over its previous two issues, Lucas Stand here reaches a pinnacle thus far, really finding its feet in balancing the ongoing saga of Lucas’ deal with not quite the Devil with his own serious personal issues. It’s just a great concept, fusing the supernatural with time travel with a hard-edged, violent, profane kind of pulp storytelling which befits the kind of world Kurt Sutter can create better than most, and if we keep getting issues which balance time periods like this with moral stories and strong character work, Lucas Stand could rank as a great comic book when the day is done. Pick it up if you haven’t already.