Jasons Aaron and Latour are continuing to deliver with Southern Bastards #3. The series so far has been a decompression of the Walking Tall story, with more authenticity and more badassery, and where it ran the risk of becoming stagnant, it’s instead been super exciting. Each issue adds something new to the ongoing story and the backstory of the Tubbs and Craw County justice, and it does it while looking gorgeous. This issue plays out on two fronts. On the one hand, we have Earl and his Hittin’ Stick and his need to clean up the town. He doesn’t want to become his father, and he’s in the process of inheriting a legacy he doesn’t want. It’s pure Greek tragedy playing out against a background of Alabama ribs, cold beer, and backcountry Friday night football. The second plot thread follows Coach Boss and his henchmen, his former players spread throughout all the different sectors of the town. It’s sort of like watching an episode of Friday Night Lights, except instead of the coach being super decent with his players and crazy inspirational all the time, he’s a huge dick who doesn’t give a shit about who he ruins in his wake. Speaking of shit, the dog from the first issue is back, hopefully as a running gag. For some reason, that dog shitting all over the town never gets old for me.
Let’s talk about Latour’s art first. It’s been three issues, and his art has been on point every panel of every page. His style has the capability of being smoother, more realistic as we’ve seen on the Marvel 100 cover he did with Cyclops and Emma Frost, but he ignores that impulse in this issue. Each person in Craw Country is rough around the edges in more than one way. The coloring work on this series has been great, as well. The covers have been all-red, all-the-time, and the interiors themselves still manage to have character and dynamics while being bathed in the red that has to represent Coach Boss and the Rebs at this point. The only thing I’m not sure of is that Earl doesn’t seem to have a separate color scheme, so if the reds start to let up at some point, I don’t know what that’ll look like. Or maybe this town will always be red. That’s for Aaron and Latour to know and me to guess.
Aaron’s writing has shown more character in the last three issues than I’ve seen from a lot of new series recently. Aaron’s obviously created his own Alabama-sized sandbox, and he is having the time of his damn life playing in it. The exorcism of one’s past seems like it’s going on in Earl’s life through the lens of Aaron doing it himself. At some point we all have to come to terms with where we came from and all the attendant embarrassment and rage, and Aaron’s writing is bringing that all to the fore. It’s the great American literary tradition, and the stakes are so personal but so huge at the same time... I don’t have enough good things to say. And he’s doing all this while he’s also got several successful Marvel books (including their big summer crossover). The guy’s not cracking under the weight, he’s flourishing.
Our hero has laid down the challenge against the Big Bad Boss, and his erstwhile sidekick is in danger. I foresee a whole lot of ass-kickin’ and stick-hittin’ going on in the near future, and I’m not going to stand by and not read that.
Writer: Jason Aaron Aritst: Jason Latour Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 7/2/14 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital