Tony Black reviews Lucas Stand #4…
Lucas searches for a demon during the Vietnam War and comes across the battlefield where his father died.
The saga of Lucas Stand continues in this fourth issue as he faces arguably his most personal mission yet, in the jungles of Vietnam alongside his long-dead father. Kurt Sutter has always written about fathers & sons, absent fathers, dead fathers, and this is no exception, indeed Lucas’ relationship with his drug-smoking, violent rather Darryl is among the most destructive he’s written. Sutter & co-writer Caitlin Kittridge fill this issue with more pain, angst and violence than any of the issues to date, and while it’s not as technically well-constructed as the last one, it’s more devastating and heart-felt for Lucas than anything before. This is the issue he confronts his own greatest demon, let alone the Tempter he’s been transported to the jungles of Laos to vanquish.
As a comic, Lucas Stand has never really been about demon hunting anyway, it’s about Sutter’s continued exorcising of his own dark demons through his characters, and Vietnam is the perfect setting to zero in on that father-son dynamic Lucas has spent his life trying to live up to, and live in the shadow of, and here he must confront the reality of. Sutter & Kittridge make the most of their thick, oily setting, the oppressive jungles and casual violence of men pushed to nihilistic extremes, and devote plenty of time to Lucas’ dynamic with father Darryl, while also using Alicia and the Chaplain as the prism with which to show the demons within and without. Crucially, amidst Jesus Hervas gorgeous, expressive and violent panels, we get flashback thoughts to Lucas’ formative years over different ages, another framing device allowing us to see the psychology of how he feels about his father. It’s very well done, even though the main plot lets this one down, lacking the clarity and through line others have had in terms of Lucas defeating the literal demon.
Lucas Stand remains one of the most impressive, pulpy auteur projects that has landed for a while though, and it just drips Kurt Sutter’s twisted, violent Americana from every pore. Vietnam is the great American ideological battlefield of the 20th century and its used to great effect, even if surprisingly it’s not the finest issue in the pack, when perhaps it should have been. It does add important layers to Lucas’ character and mission however and, consistently, you may wish to see Lucas grace a TV or movie medium one day after reading this.