When a TV show gets a cult following, it can lead to a number of spin-offs being developed. Sons of Anarchy is a good example, with a comic series being created to highlight Jax Teller’s early days with the club. Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Original: Vol Two, written by Ollie Masters, centres on the first year of Jax’s life with the MC. As a prospect, Jax is hungry to prove himself and earn respect in the eyes of men he’s always looked up to. But past mistakes have led to him losing his patch and being cast out. The second volume deals with him trying to regain his place, resulting in a fast-paced graphic novel that echoes the thrills of the original show.
The story picks up from the first volume – A mysterious black biker is targeting SAMCRO and making their lives hell. Desperate to get his patch back, Jax hunts down the biker and tries to kill him. A bloody fight ensues, with Jax catching the biker by surprise. Jax holds his own and manages to escape. Jax is also able to find out what happened to a shipment of stolen guns, which makes him confront the One-Niners.
Meanwhile, Clay is dealing with his own problems by trying to get rid of a shipment of heroin. The SAMCRO president reaches out to the Niners, setting off two separate stories that converge into one. Clay and Jax’s interactions with Laroy, the leader of the Niners, is mixed with tension and bravado. In the meantime, Clay is able to settle his beef with the black biker and Jax is accepted back into the club.
I found Masters’ characterisation of Jax to be one of the best parts of the graphic novel. He presents an inexperienced young man grappling with the consequences of his decisions. Character development comes from Jax accepting his mistakes and doing his best to fix them. It puts him on the path to becoming the level-headed, strategic leader that fans appreciated in the show.
This also feeds into one of the major themes of the story: the folly of youth. Everyone fucks up when they’re young, so the best way to grow is to learn from your mistakes and do better next time. There’s also a commentary on how impressionable young men can be when raised in a culture of violence. Jax is wholly dedicated to the club, while his best friend Opie is kept on the outside by his father.
Artist Eoin Marron injects the SOA cast with grit and determination, capturing the essence of the show. Characters like Clay and Tig look exactly as they do on TV. Marron showcases the brutality of Charming, through the use of shadow and dark colours. This is exemplified in the confrontation between Jax and the biker, as blood is put on full display.
The second volume of the Sons of Anarchy prequel series is a great addition to Kurt Sutter’s world. If you’re interested in finding out about Jax’s early years, then this is the graphic novel for you. Buy it now on Amazon.