(Image Comics, 2014)
Writer – Jason Aaron
Art and Color – Jason Latour
Letters – Jared K. Fletcher
Color Asst. – Rico Renzi
Grab a beer, some BBQ’d ribs, and turn up that high school football game, it’s Wednesday, and in comic book land, that means a new issue of Southern Bastards.
I reviewed issue 1 last month, and stick by my original synopsis. This book is Walking Tall mashed together with Gran Turino. Picture an aged Rock yelling at kids to get off his dead father’s lawn, and that about sums up a general first impression.
Jason Aaron and Jared K. Fletcher present Southern Bastards #2, an expansion on the original, a build up of tension, all leading to the inevitable. We know what’s going on here, we see the trajectory, and we love every second of it.
Earl Tubb has returned home to liquidate the remains of his father’s estate. A house that no one lives in and enough small possessions to fill a very small U-haul are all that is left of the once great Sheriff “Big” Bert Tubb. He was a legend in the county, the man that brought peace back and held it squirming in his fist.
What I love about this, besides the impending sh*t storm, is that Jason Aaron has perfectly captured small town life. This isn’t just a picture of a southern town, this is all small towns. I’m from about as far north away from the south as you can get, barring Alaska, and still be in the country, and this feels like it could be my hometown. (Add snow, and parkas, and those furry earflap hats.) His portrait of the elevation of football to a cult-like status is not just southern, it’s small town America. What high school senior football star doesn’t feel like he is the biggest ant on the hill? What about his cadre? The quarterback’s inner circle? Are they not small town royalty, especially when they’re on a winning streak? Bring home a state title, and what have you then? The anthill expanded. Aaron has a knack for little details that bring out the inter-connectedness of a small town, i.e., the current sheriff played for the coach. It all comes back to Coach Boss. That too, is typical small-town football.
So Earl has returned. This whole issue, including the crime reported and ignored, is leading up to the end of issue #2, when Earl will make a decision regarding his involvement with Craw County politics. Will he drive his “Y’all Haul” away into the night, or reach for that squirmy wormy peace and try to wrangle it like his father did? I’m assuming you can guess the answer. What comic ever has only two issues?
I love the style in which this is drawn. Having the colorist and artist be one and the same makes for a unique perfect expression. Jason LaTour knows what he wants on the page in terms of form and color, and it’s up to him to make it happen. If he wants the panels dark, they’re dark. It’s a great way to show the artists’ vision, exactly as he wanted it. There is no loss of translation.
Southern Bastards continues to be greatly entertaining. I know where it’s going, but that doesn’t lessen the enjoyment. Imagine it’s a car trip. You’re heading to Birmingham, Alabama. Your GPS is voiced by two bastardic Jasons, and they take you through the winding, tree covered lanes and back roads. You know your destination, but the trip is still fun. And who knows where you’ll stop for lunch?
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.