Some of the most memorable TV shows have included graphic content and a good story, which is why Sons of Anarchy was so successful. For any fan who’s missing the show, the latest SAMCRO graphic novel has been released called Redwood Original. The graphic novel serves as a prequel, taking place ten years before the show. It focuses on Jax Teller’s first year as a prospect. Written by Ollie Masters and drawn by Luca Pizzari, Redwood Original captures all the violence and drama that made the show so entertaining.
The story picks up with Jax moping about Tara leaving Charming. To get over it, he throws himself into the club and his work as a prospect. This is a very different Jax from the one we’re used to in the show. He’s explosive, impulsive and doesn’t have any of the bigger picture mentality that helped him become SAMCRO president. Within the first few pages, he brawls with a local high school kid and later he brags about almost killing someone to a club outsider. Masters showcases Jax’s inexperience and raw, teenage emotion. He’s a kid who’s just lost his dad and the love of his life in the space of a few months.
Meanwhile, the rest of SAMCRO are dealing with a shipment of cocaine and heroine that’s fallen into their lap. As President, Clay’s responsible for making the hard choices and decides to get rid of it quickly by selling it to the One-Niners. Clay has his hands full being a parent to Jax and trying to fit into his role as leader. The relationship between stepfather and stepson is given a lot of emotional weight, with Clay trying to steer Jax onto a path he thinks is right for him.
A mysterious bounty hunter arrives in Charming, looking for the drugs. He makes a statement by killing the man who gave SAMCRO the drugs and straps a bomb to the severed head. He shows up at the clubhouse and tosses it at Clay, showing that he’s not messing around.
Feeling suffocated by Clay, Jax takes off with Opie to a party outside of town. The two of them try ecstasy and end up lost in the desert. Opie is involved in an accident and Jax has to take him to hospital. When they get back to Charming, Clay is furious and kicks Jax out of the club.
Masters works a lot of resonant themes into the first volume of the Sons of Anarchy prequel. There’s grief, fatherhood, brotherhood and a desire for freedom and independence. It was interesting to see Jax fuck up a lot in the way that teenagers do when they’re trying to prove themselves. Show creator, Kurt Sutter had a lot of input with the graphic novel, and you can feel his influence throughout the pages.
Pizzari’s art is exactly what you’d want for an SOA graphic novel. It’s gritty and pulpy, mixing a lot of red and black to accentuate the violence that centres around the characters.
If you want to learn about Jax’s early days in the club then you should read Redwood Original. You can buy it from Amazon.
Check back for my review of Volume 2 when it comes out in December.