Tony Black reviews Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Original #1…
For the first time anywhere, read the untold story of how a young Jax Teller, 18 years old and fresh out of high school, decides to prospect his dead father’s—and his current stepfather’s—MC, the Sons of Anarchy.
The only all-new, original ongoing story for fans of Sons of Anarchy.
Under complete supervision of SOA show creator Kurt Sutter, the story will feature younger versions of some of the characters you’ve come to know and love, including Opie, Clay, Jemma, Tig, and Chibs!
Sons of Anarchy was one of the best TV shows of the last ten years. Pulp Americana it may have been, all guns, oil, ammo and machismo, pure melodrama, but when it worked Kurt Sutter’s show worked, it was appointment television with a terrific cast of rounded, complex anti-heroes. You can see why Redwood Original, which looks set to tell the formative origin story of series protagonist Jackson ‘Jax’ Teller, is a slam dunk for a comic book series adaptation, perhaps a better way to tell a prequel to the now-finished, modern Shakespearian story of outlaw motorcycle/organised crime club SAMCRO. Ollie Masters, no doubt working with Sutter when it comes to story, provides a fitting script with this first introductory issue, reminding us of the myriad character types that make up the Sons and immediately, it made me miss the show – that’s perhaps the greatest praise that can be bestowed on this new comic.
You see when the series began, Jax was already a firm member of the club his father, John Teller, began before his untimely death some years earlier in an apparent accident – here, Jax is a ‘prospect’ and a wild one at that, a coiled, un-tempered spring, just off the back of his one true love Tara leaving Charming, the Californian town the show is set, who we first see, as Masters opens the comic up, beating the living daylights out of some punk who disrespects him. It’s all about lessons, and as Jax engages with the club members throughout this issue, particularly new club leader Clay Morrow–gruff, cool best friend to his late father–we realise this series will be about Jax learning the initial lessons which make him into that original redwood, a firm member of the group.
What’s good is that Masters contrasts this with Jax’s best friend, Opie Winston (here slick backed and clean shaven, would you believe?) who it turns out was a college boy before becoming the intense, rather tragic figure the show delivers; he’s battling his own demons about his future, about where he’s meant to be, as his old SAMCRO father Piney encourages him not to give into this life. If Jax’s journey will be about controlling his own demons, Opie’s is surely about hitting them head on and making his choice to become a prospect himself. Given where he ends up during the show, it only makes his presumed story even more quietly tragic.
Around these character beats, you have a story with the club facing a dodgy drugs deal & enforcing a protection racket which surely will ripple through as the main action narrative–which allows artist Luca Pizzari to add plenty of flame and fire to his drained out, cool panels, but ones which often superbly convey classic characters such as Gemma, Tig, Bobby etc…–but the strength of this first issue of Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Original lies in just how close it hems to the tone and style of the original show, unafraid to depict brutal violence & profanity amidst hard hitting action. We can only hope for more of the same after this strong start.