Review: Southern Bastards #2

So those metaphors we were talking about last time in Southern Bastards? Yeah, those metaphors are back, and they’re basically gonna kick the shit outta you and leave you for dead in the old holler. Deal with it; enjoy it. With this issue, Mr. Tubbs has given up trying to chop down his father-tree, and decides to catch one last Runnin’ Reb’s game before he leaves his shithole of a hometown. When a man Earl once decided, potentially against his better judgment, to defend a man he vaguely remembered from his past, he didn’t know he was going to show up bleeding and dead in the middle of a football game. On the field. So begins Tubbs’ investigation into the evil Coach, who apparently coaches a mean football game and has plenty of spare time to run all the crime in town. There’s definitely a little bit of the prison foreman from Cool Hand Luke in this guy, mixed in with a little bit of Boss Hogg, and literally zero of Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights.

The metaphors that were under the surface in issue one are out in full force this issue. The tree, the stick, the lightning bolt; he’s practically building a tarot deck of visuals. It’s really enjoyable to read, since comics exist on a mythic level where visual metaphors play out really well, but I can’t wait to learn more about Earl himself. We learned a lot about his father in issue one, which told us things about him by way of things he was not and did not want to be. And he’s constantly making these vague status update phone calls to someone’s answering machine (my current guess is his daughter), but he’s still largely a cipher. They’re building this really rich world, and I’m enjoying watching Earl explore it, I just want to know who the explorer is.

SouthernBastards02_Cover copy 2Latour’s art really is growing on me page by page. His lines are rough, but with their own dignity to each character, an apt metaphor for the South if I do say so myself. I’m still not sure I’m sold on the coloring yet. It seems a little flat, and off in places, but it is a very dark comic that calls for dark colors. And obviously, the creative team is pretty married to the dark reds and yellows (see: probably every cover for the series), so I can’t say I’m surprised.

This comic is opening itself up to a classic, old-school showdown between the bastardly forces of good (Earl, Clint Eastwood, The Rock) and the bastardly forces of evil (The Coach, all the bad guys from A Fistful of Dollars). At this point, I’m waiting for either a second faction to emerge to challenge the Coach, for Earl to play them both off of each other, or for Earl to straight up murder the Coach, and either take his place as crime boss or take his father’s place as shit-kicking sheriff. It’s a high-stakes family drama, the likes you only ever see in Southern Gothic literature and the Bible. It’s high-stakes, and it’s a lot of fun. Come on down and check it out.

Score: 4/5

Writer: Jason Aaron Artist: Jason Latour Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 5/28/14 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital