Written by Kurt Sutter & Caitlin Kittredge
Illustrated by Jesus Hervas
Colours by Adam Metcalfe
Letters by Jim Campbell
Review by Billy Seguire
The first page of Lucas Stand #1 starts out a lot like Evil Dead taking the darkest path possible. A military veteran working as a mall cop at the end of his rope in life, Lucas is a red vest wearing loser. After punching his boss in the face and losing even that little bit of stability in his life, Lucas’ path quickly goes off the rails and the comic really picks up. His pathetic outset sets the character up for a story that’s either about redemption or a grizzled anti-hero flying in the face of society yet again. In a breath of freshness, the comic chooses neither. Lucas has demons, but he doesn’t want to be the man that lets them control his future. It sets the series up for a game where the stakes are a good man’s soul. What weapons is Lucas given in this game though? If all your character knows how to do is fight, how do they cope with a situation where fighting isn’t the answer? That’s exactly the question Lucas Stand #1 is asking.
The opening pages of Lucas Stand #1 are designed to conflict you. Lucas is justifying, trying to come off as a morally responsible character while we witness him do horrible acts that would unforgivable for any real individual. It’s imperative to the future of the comic that we know Lucas has committed mortal sins, yet it’s still disturbing to see the protagonist of your comic at the centre of events that are morally reprehensible even to himself. It walks the line just well enough to make his suicide justifiable. You definitely agree that it’s one of the only options Lucas has left, but in his final moments he’s done enough good acts along with the bad not to see him as a villain, and his explanations, along with an self-awareness that he’s justifying, do credit to the character to make us not entirely lose hope in him being a good man.
Lucas committing suicide brings us into the meat of the story, as we go from a world of depression and broken promises to one of demons, time travel, and Nazi occupation. Gadrel recruits Lucas on a mission of violence through time and space to fight the denizens of hell. We’re not told what side Gadrel is on when he recruits Lucas, and it’s inferred several times throughout the book that he may not be someone Lucas wants to be tied to for all of eternity. Time is a liquid thing in Lucas Stand, and on his first mission Lucas is sent back to World War II to fight Nazis who reference The Exorcist in their intimidation.
The expressions that Hervas is able to evoke with Lucas are astonishing. You really feel the emotion that resonates in the facial expressions and body language of the characters, and the world is thoughtfully crafted to portray the dynamics of the comic visually. When Lucas travels to WWII, his hair, clothing, and other distinguishing features all change, yet he is still visually recognisable as himself. A calculated risk to take, but one that Hervas can handle by imbuing Lucas with recognisable personality and body language in his performance. A sense of kinetic motion plays into many of the scenes, even if it’s just an emotional whiplash, which Hervas portrays with manga-like influences. Taken together, the pages come off as a dynamic collection of art. It’s exactly the right sort of art for the tone Lucas Stand #1 is trying to evoke.
I’m also quite impressed that for all its dark subject matter, Lucas Stand remains a colourful comic visually. Especially early on, Metcalfe is unafraid to give life to the world that surrounds Lucas in bold hues to give some life to the depressing story. I always find that admirable to evoke tone in a comic while still using colour. Too many “serious” books are done in shades of black and white.
Check It Out. I never watched Sons of Anarchy, so my opinion on Kurt Sutter as a writer is pretty much a blank slate. Still, I found Lucas Stand #1 to be an interesting approach to rehabilitating the anti-hero archetype. Gadrel’s fluid time travel is a hook that I’ve personally wanted to see done for years. In an intention to end the issue on a cliffhanger leaves me with still a few more questions than I’d like in a first chapter. Lucas being left in the dark is a major plot point, but it means the audience is in the dark with him. I am engaged in the story and have a desire to see more. I want to make sure this series has legs, that Lucas can stand on his own feet as a character without falling back into archetype territory before fully recommending Lucas Stand as a series for purchase. So far, I think it’s going to make it.