Poignant and powerful, graphic novels have proven to be a highly successful medium. Many graphic novels become movies, a list that includes The Watchmen, V for Vendetta, 300, Sin City, and a slew of others. It has also proven to be a very lucrative medium, so the fact that Motorbooks published its first graphic novel is little surprise.
Lucifer’s Sword MC – Life and Death in an Outlaw Motorcycle Club is the name of Motorbooks’ first attempt at a graphic novel. It deals with a fictitious one-percenter club in the Bay Area during the mid-‘60s, a period that gave rise to many real motorcycle clubs. Its protagonist is Mel “Frenchy” Bourget, the primary storyline “Frenchy’s” rise from club prospect to patched member. His initiation includes a beating by the club, rites of passage within the club, and a war with a rival motorcycle club. The story includes much of the stereotypical one-percenter images of fighting, guns, girls and drugs.
It is this stereotypical depiction that makes the storyline a little flat and linear. The graphic novel’s writer, Phil Cross, also authored Gypsy Joker to Hells Angels. He’s someone who has lived the one-percenter lifestyle, which is evident in Lucifer’s Sword, but at times it reads more like the writer’s autobiography. Being a graphic novel there was a lot of leeway to fictionalize the account through plot twists and unpredictability, but instead it reads like a recollection of his own life. Because of shows like Sons of Anarchy, people have come to expect constant tension and intensity in a piece about one-percenter clubs. Fortunately, this does take place in the story’s ending, the open-ending piquing reader’s interest enough to want to know what happens next.
Lucifer’s Sword does offer insight into what prospects go through to earn their cuts. Gypsy, the leader of Lucifer’s Sword MC, paints a clear picture when he tells Frenchy “You are now the lowest form of life that we recognize: a prospect with Lucifer’s Sword Motorcycle Club. If we ever catch you riding without this, you lose it.”
“Along with your teeth,” adds a second member called Dirt.
The illustrative work of Ron Sutton is one of the graphic novel’s strong points. Using black and white fits the tone of the subject matter well. The facial expressions he draws do an excellent job of conveying emotions. Sutton’s drawings effectively bring the graphic novel’s characters to life.
Lucifer’s Sword MC is an easy read, taking me about 25 minutes to pore through it, so I read it again before writing a review. For a first effort at a graphic novel, it’s got potential. Now that the characters are established, Cross will hopefully throw the reader a curve or two instead of following what felt like more of an autobiographical storyline.
Lucifer’s Sword – Life and Death in an Outlaw Motorcycle Club
Paperback: 96 pages