By Robert Larson
In this, the penultimate issue of Lucas Stand, one of the series’ major problems is front and center: the confusing narrative. Things seem to happen from out of nowhere, and characters I’m supposed to recognize suddenly appear and say things about the plot that totally change our understanding of it, but without any other clues to suggest those changes were in the offing. Stuff happens and we don’t understand why, and since the series is almost over, it doesn’t seem like any nuance is really going to be injected into this. It’s a shame, because the premise had some initial value. Warning: I will be discussing spoilers here.
Lucas and Alicia are stuck in 1947 trying to track down a serial-killer/tempter, but the trail is going cold. An elderly Dedham helps Lucas crack the mystery, but before they can, somebody appears to warn Lucas that Gadrel is playing a much bigger and more dangerous game. Every mission has destabilized the timestream, and Gadrel is hoping that the damage will allow him to rewrite parts of history. Lucas decides to quit playing for Gadrel and kill one of the Watchers Gadrel sent rather than the tempter, who willing goes back to Hell, but he lapses into a coma in the present day that lasts until the year 2047.
At some level, the revelation that Gadrel has been playing Lucas has been waiting for a long time. After all, demons make deals with mortals in fiction when they possess more information, and working for a minion of Hell shouldn’t be a simple thing. But it feels unsatisfying here, partly because we haven’t seen any of that damage that Lucas has been causing. It was basically absolved in the first half of the series, so that the only real damage was what was done to Lucas’ dad’s unit…which already happened in some form, didn’t it? It just feels like lazy exposition, narrating what has been happening this whole time rather than showing it.
And the actual character interaction remains as confusing as ever. Why does the Watcher fight them, exactly? Just because they made the tempter go back to Hell? And did we know the person who approached Lucas? I know we should, because he talks to her as though he knows her, but I cannot for the life of me recall who she is. It doesn’t help that even the art can be confusing: one panel makes it look like Lucas is jumping through a window with shards of glass all around him, but other segments after that look like they run through a hallway.
And now, in one issue, we’ll see Gadrel’s master plan and then watch as Lucas presumably foils it and saves his immortal soul (though I’d kind of enjoy an ending where he fails; at least it would be in keeping with this series’ out-of-left-field modus operandi). It just feels really rushed, perhaps a consequence of the Boom! mini-series format, but still ultimately owed to poor pacing decisions.
Writer: Kurt Sutter and Caitlin Kittredge
Artist: Jesus Hervas
Publisher: BOOM! Studios