On the eve of the release of Southern Bastards #5, I thought it would be good to do a short review of the previous four issues which make up the first story arc: Here Was a Man.
Southern Bastards concerns an elderly man, Earl Tubb, who returns to his former home in the deep south of America for the first time in forty years. It’s a place he’d rather forget, a sorry looking town where the people live in fear of the terror that surrounds them due to the almost tyrannical rule of football coach, Coach Boss (yep that’s his name). To say much more would be to spoil the story but let’s just say there is some serious emotion in this book and some serious bad-ass action.
Written by Jason Aaron and with art by Jason Latour, this has been one of the most refreshing comics of the last few years. It doesn’t deal with superheroes or any supernatural powers; it is all very normal. And in that lies its brilliance. The Jasons’ have crafted such a wonderfully authentic atmosphere that you cannot help but be absorbed into it. Aaron’s dialogue epitomises the town of Craw County, as you can almost here the Southern accent as you read the pages. Latour’s art compliments it beautifully, as its not neat or tidy, it’s scruffy with rough edges just the characters and indeed just like the place. Just because its not clean or smooth does not mean that the place is not represented as something beautiful though. There lies something deeper in the art, in the words and in the story as a whole. The South is portrayed as brutal but there’s something admirable and possibly even quite tranquil to be found there too. The fact that the creative team can depict so much emotion in such a limited number of pages is a huge credit to them.
The Jasons’ weave together a heartbreaking story with what is essentially a revenge tale. Tubb is a good man, a peaceful man in many ways, it seems he’s just trying to get in and get out as quickly as possible, but there’s demons and ghosts in Craw County that he has to deal with first. This is where the anger, frustration and brutality comes from; he hates seeing the place he loves under the thumb of such despotic men as the awesomely named Coach Boss. If you enjoy American football, BBQ ribs and the underbelly of the American South then this is the comic for you. Equally if you enjoy authentic atmospheres, empathetic characters, and effective violence this is also for you. Actually if you enjoy great storylines and art period, pick this comic up because in a few short pages you’ll be glad you decided to visit Craw County.
One of, if not the best new comic series of the year so far. There’s nothing better than getting stuck in the deep south with this creative team.