(Image Comics, 2014)
Story by Joshua Williamson
Artwork by Mike Henderson
Color Artwork by Adam Guzowski
Letters & Design by John J. Hill
Southern Bastards #3
Written by Jason Aaron
Artwork by Jason Latour
Letters by Jared K. Fletcher
It’s crazy to see so many good comics on the market, and extraordinarily frustrating, coming from the point of view of a reader. You find a story that connects and want to stick with it. Often those stories come from different companies with different release dates and that means a second trip to the shop and untold amounts of dollar books to sift through while you wait your turn…it all ends up costing you money. (Gladly of course, that’s part of the thrill.)
When I think of the popularity of comic book characters, the old stalwarts come to mind. Batman and Superman, Spider-Man and Wolverine, all of these and so many others have become fixtures in pop culture so that even your grandmother can point at the movie poster and know that it’s a Batman flick, your great uncle remembers his first Spider-Man “funny book”. (Which he then tossed in a burn barrel…an Amazing Spider-Man #41…first appearance of the Rhino…feeling faint….) Both Marvel and DC have years to back them, and their characters, and a history that has been ingrained into the public consciousness.
Smaller companies, like Image, are, in perspective, much newer. (Image launched in 1992.) But despite their relatively young age, comics like Spawn and The Walking Dead have taken advantage of the comic culture and blossomed. Image hasn’t stopped there, and this week I’m sharing a two-fer (one) review with the third issue of a couple of Image’s best titles.
This week there are a couple of Image # 3’s coming out.
Nailbiter follows Nicholas Finch, who has follow his missing friend Eliot to the small town of Buckaroo, Oregon, the birthplace of sixteen of the most notorious serial killers the world has known. Eliot was obsessed with the town, searching for the key that will unlock the mysteries of the town and it’s infamous residents. Finch meets Edward Charles Warren, the Nailbiter, who chews on his victims’ fingers, and gets embroiled in small-town politics and intrigue. It’s a story that draws you in and Williamson (Ghosted) holds you there, promising ever more gruesome and disturbing avenues. He offers both the point of view of the killer and the cop and that makes for great storytelling. Henderson (Masks and Mobsters) uses great paneling and perspective to present the mystery/drama/crime aspect of this story.
Southern Bastards is another small town book, and while it may not be filled with serial killers, Craw County is not someplace you want to stay for any amount of time. You’d be best off to stop for ribs and fried pie and head on down the road. Jason Aaron (The Other Side) tells the coming home story of Earl Tubb, aged son of a hard-assed sheriff, returned to find that all the work his father did has been undone by a man named Coach Boss. This is small-town South, where football is akin to godliness. Earl has found that this is a fight he cannot walk away from, and with a little help from providence has armed himself with a Teddy Roosevelt-sized stick. Aaron explores the nuances of small town hierarchy, and what the introduction of an angry ex-marine can do to that delicate balance. Jason Latour (The ExPatriate) has a unique style that is perfect for this book. You have to give any artist credit that is willing to draw dog crap as much as this guy does. (And does it well.)
Both of these books offer a unique perspective on a small, disturbing little town. They should be on your pull list.
The whole point here is that these guys are making great comics. Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson, Jason Latour and Jason Aaron are the super-teams at a company that was built by strong stories and creators. These guys are the foundation of what we will be reading in the future. They are laying groundwork for great stories to come, just as creators like McFarlane and Kirkman have done before them. (Not, of course, discounting the current work of those esteemed gentlemen.)
Nailbiter and Southern Bastards are two of my favorites right now, and I know I’m not alone. Head out to your brick-and-mortar and pick up a couple of #3’s from Image, you won’t be disappointed.
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.