Sometimes going home can be the hardest thing. Distance, time, and memories can add a rift in any relationship, especially one that was already estranged to begin with. Roberta Tubb is home, but it isn’t her home. Southern Bastards #14 is supposed to the end of a story arc, but it feels much more like a new beginning.
It’s been months since Aaron and Latour released the last issue of Southern Bastards, and it’s been a long wait. Earl Tubb was murdered in the street, and we find out that his daughter is on her way after she tries to return one his many voicemails. Well, she’s home, and it’s too late, Earl is dead. Roberta enters his house, and pokes around, telling us that this wasn’t the house she was raised in, rather the house her dad moved into after his divorce. And much like her father, Craw County shouldn’t be her problem, but it becomes her fight. The parallels between them are uncanny, both war veterans, and both stubborn as hell. Roberta gets in a fist fight with Earl’s shithead neighbors halfway through the issue. What was just supposed to be a short visit, becomes something much more when the neighbor’s son calls her the N word… The last panels are her driving towards Craw County, in search of what really happened to Earl Tubb, for better or for worse.
It felt like forever waiting for Roberta to arrive in this comic, after watching Earl leave countless voicemails, each one more heartbreaking than the last. Aaron’s timing is perfectly tragic, with Roberta finally getting back to him, but after his death. Now, in search of answers, her mother is leaving her voicemails and she ignores them. It is an interesting narrative device and allows for some great inner dialogue. We know little to nothing of Roberta’s mother and Earl’s wife, but we do know that she resents him, as presented through her voicemails, telling Roberta to leave Craw County alone, and that “you don’t owe that man nothing”. Well, whether it’s curiosity or something more, Roberta has been pulled into the same shit that her father was. And now with an automatic rifle in the passenger seat she rides across county lines seeking vengeance.
The best thing about Southern Bastards is the slowness of it. At first the series charged ahead, but as it has progressed it’s kind of thickened up, getting heavier and darker the more you learn about the different characters and parties involved. The wait for this issue was long, but it’s release has finally opened up this series for an entire new world of possibilities. It’s obvious that Aaron and Latour are in this for the long haul, crafting a perfect Southern crime story, one that unfolds at its own pace, and just drags you along, hoping to God what you think is going to happen doesn’t. It would be so easy for Aaron to just let Roberta show up in town and just let loose on Coach and his cronies with her rifle, but that’s too easy, not to mention unrealistic. No, Aaron wants us to really feel the hatred that burns and boils beneath the surface of this Alabama town. He wants us to understand why things are the way they are. It’s not just about bloodshed or violence, it’s so much more than that. Craw County is a place where people don’t want to change, despite their morality and ethics being pushed to the limit. Things are only going to get worse from here but it’s so hard to stop reading once you start.
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Southern Bastards #14 Writer: Jason Aaron Artist: Jason LaTour Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/11/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital