Review: Southern Bastards #4

Ho.Lee. Fuck.

So Team Jasons wrapped up their first arc of Southern Bastards this month with #4 (and just in time for college football season, perhaps not coincidentally). You know those last issues of an issue where you just feel like someone punched you in the gut, and you have to put the comic down and just go outside and just exist for a minute? This is one of those arc finales, except I read it in the dead of night, so I am left alone with my thoughts and a lingering fear of the south, and men in TAPOUT shirts.

The way this arc wraps up leads me to believe that it will be a fairly clean break between this issue and next, so if you’ve been sleeping on Southern Bastards (which, shame on you), you should be able to grab the trade next month and be ready to go, or hell, just jump right the fuck in. There’s no part of this comic that I can find fault with, and after 3 nigh-perfect issues, believe me, I’m on alert, ready to call out Latour or Aaron for something. I literally can’t do it this month.

SouthernBastards04_CoverJason Aaron’s writing has been phenomenal on this first arc, right up through the last panel on the last page of this one. I almost want to say that a lot of the mythical and Shakespearean aspects of writing Thor have rubbed off on him a bit, and what could have been a subdued book about a man returning to a town he hates has turned into one of the highest-stakes books on the shelf every month. He’s Lear, he’s raging against the dying of the light, he’s a haunted man, and by god he’s gonna get un-haunted with nothing but a passion for barbecue and sweet tea. In place of an inner monologue, he’s been making phone calls and leaving messages for an unnamed relation that we’re finally introduced to in the prologue and let me just say, I can’t wait until this relative makes their way to Craw County. That shit is not gonna be pretty.

Latour picks up Earl Tubb’s big fucking stick every month and hits everything that Aaron throws at him in the jaw. There’s not a moment of this book that doesn’t feel immediate and real, and the emotional impact of it all owes a lot to Latour’s blocky lines, his granite-built old men and weasel-y sidekicks, his deep blacks and his sour reds. This isn’t a black-and-white-with-red book like Sin City; the contrast is there, but it’s muted, so we go from sepia tones and dust colors to a red that barely warrants a mention among the residents of Craw County. It’s desolate and grimy and gorgeous like a decaying bayou house, and it’s the perfect foil with Aaron’s writing.

Basically if you’re not reading Southern Bastards every month, you need to come correct, son. There’s not a book really like this on the shelves that comes to mind, and it’s all the better for it. They’re doing it every month, and they’re doing it right, and you’re missing out.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Jason Aaron Artist: Jason Latour Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 9/3/14 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital