Thursday, June 23, 2016

Review - Lucas Stand #1 (@boomstudios)

"We're all just animals at the mercy of our impulses."

The inevitability of death is right up there with the sun rising--it's going to happen. For most everyone who encounters it there's no more. Some people like Lucas Stand get a second chance and that's on display in Lucas Stand #1 from BOOM! Studios. The issue is written by Kurt Sutter and Caitlin Kittredge, illustrated by Jesús Hervás, colored by Adam Metcalfe and lettered by Jim Campbell.

Lucas Stand is a military vet who can’t reintegrate into society and has emotionally cut himself off from the people he loves. At his lowest, Lucas does something he can’t take back. Hell comes calling, offering him the opportunity to make things right. Demons escaping Hell are upsetting the balance of evil, and now Lucifer has recruited Lucas to send them back. It doesn’t matter in what era the demons escape—World War II, old-timey Hollywood, Vietnam, present day—he must learn to fit in both the past and the present. Given new purpose, Lucas starts to rebuild himself and his life, even as he struggles at the human cost that comes with it.

The script by Sutter and Kittredge leverages Lucas Stand as a greatly disillusioned combat veteran struggling to find a post-war identity--something that's sadly all too realistic in many returning veterans. What's different about Lucas though is he's given a second chance to fight the enemy. The dialogue in the book feels coarse--befitting of a man like Lucas tired of it all. There are some pacing issues in that the flow feels a little forced in order to properly set the table, but Sutter and Kittredge do a great job of still keeping everything on track. And the premise behind the book itself doesn't feel overly tired, primarily because Lucas Stand is sort of a demon himself tasked with finding other demons.

Artistically, the approach by Hervás has an appropriate level of roughness to it that fits with Stand's characterization. Lucas is depicted as a hulking figure who has clearly served in the military and Hervás uses that stature as a means of forcing Lucas upon both the characters around him and the reader. Many of the panels have an unfinished quality to them that echoes the relative incompleteness of Lucas' life and Hervás handles the lulls and action-sequences quite deftly. There's a "nostalgic" scene as well that Hervás manages to make feel anachronistically appropriate. Metcalfe's colors are largely darker, but he pops in splashes of red and pink for moments of heightened intensity.

The premise behind Lucas Stand #1 is equal parts Punisher and Constantine. Lucas is no longer a good person and it's arguable that he's even doing good in his new assignment. The duo of Sutter and Kittedge have a clear goal in mind for him though and they're do a solid job of letting the reader know what that goal is. Hervás' artwork is grimy in a way that works. Lucas Stand #1 is a new take on an old formula, giving readers a new antihero to cheer for.

Lucas Stand #1 is in stores now.


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