By Christopher Golden, Damian Couceiro, & Stephen Downer
There are plenty of movies and TV series that have seen comic book counterparts released. However, these tend to be within genres typical to the medium. It was a little odd to see that there was going to be a comic book mini-series following the exploits of the SAMCRO guys from Sons of Anarchy. Despite the initial hesitation, issue #1 turned out to be a somewhat pleasant surprise.
Having previously contributed to the fantastic Baltimore series among others, Christopher Golden tends to work within horror and fantasy. Although Sons of Anarchy seems a bit out of character for him, he makes a valiant effort to engage with the characters that have been entertaining fans for over five years. Having seen every episode of the series, it was a bit off-putting that so much of issue #1 felt confusing. There are a number of unfamiliar characters introduced without explanation, and this is the central factor that contributed to the murky nature of this initial installment. There seem to be conflicts and relationships that might be unique to the comic books, but they are not introduced in a particularly clear way. Admittedly, this was only the first issue and there will clearly be plenty of time to detail just what is going on, but the book felt less accessible than it should have for someone who is familiar with the story. Despite this fact, the more familiar characters seen throughout the series are presented in a way that is consistent with the TV show. The dialogue is well-suited to each personality, with a particularly accurate portrayal of Gemma. Although the current story appears to be out of sync with the TV series, the basis for the current plot uses aspects of the characters that remain consistent with the show; a big part of the comic book appears to focus on Tig’s feelings regarding the murder of his daughter. Putting aside any relationship with the source material, this first issue was a fairly fun read that had an appropriate amount of action and intrigue to keep things interesting.
The artwork provided by Couceiro and Downer was actually the strongest point for Sons of Anarchy #1. As a fan of the show, there were very minor issues with some of the character visuals; Jax looks much older than he should, and there’s something weird about Gemma’s appearance. However, this is simply nit-picking at small details. Overall, the familiar characters look great and appear as they do on the screen. Furthermore, all of the visuals are terrifically detailed and realistic regarding both the characters and environments. The facial expressions are also incredibly well-done, particularly when focusing on the pain apparent on Tig’s face as he deals with the loss of his daughter. As with the illustrations themselves, the colors are incredible and further enhance the overall sense of realism apparent through this issue.
Although the artwork was fantastic, full of rich detail and well-executed lighting effects, the actual story in this first installment was a little disappointing. True, this is only the opening of the story, but it would’ve made more sense to have this series take place during the time of the current season of the show. As it stands, there is no indication that this is the case and some aspects of the book clash with what is currently happening on TV. Overall, the characterizations were well-done and felt consistent with the popular series. There are some interesting things happening in issue #1, but future issues will decide how closely this book sticks to the source material and whether or not this story will directly tie-in to the TV show. Whether or not this ends up being the case, the creative team seem to be setting up an intriguing tale of crime and revenge.