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Southern Bastards #1

Created by Jason Aaron & Jason Latour

Writer – Jason Aaron

Art & Color – Jason Latour

Letters – Jared K. Fletcher

Color Assist. – Rico Renzi

Review by Joey Braccino

This comic is brutal, but not in the blood-and-guts, torture-porn sorta way that word is often applied. Jason Aaron and Jason Latour mine the deepest, darkest, most disconcerting recesses of the American South in Southern Bastards #1, subverting the “down-home” images of football, barbecue, pick-ups, and the local sheriff into something far more twisted. Think Deliverance meets Walking Tall with a dash of Friday Night Lights. The best descriptor I could use would be “rural noir,” though I do believe that Revival has already laid claim to the genre.

Background music? "Oh ma darlin', oh ma darlin'..."

Background music? “Oh ma darlin’, oh ma darlin’…”

The story is set in Deep South Alabama, where football reigns supreme and pick-ups rove the small-town streets. Our protagonist, Earl Tubb returns to the town of his youth to clear out his old family home now that his Uncle is in an old folks’ home. The action of the issue is split between Earl’s slow realization that Craw County has, for all intents and purposes, gone to s**t and  his memory his father, Sheriff Bert Tubbs. The memories imply a long criminal history in Craw County that seems to have returned in some form in Earl’s forty years away.

While this comic quickly could have devolved into a parody of Southern stereotypes—hicks and rednecks, varsity jackets and beer cans—Latour and Aaron are sure to channel their own personal experience growing up in the “haunting” South to lend an intimacy and immediacy to the setting. There is an emotional resonance to Earl’s interaction with his town, his disappointment in its current state, and his intense desire to get out as soon as he possible can that helps propel Southern Bastards past simple grit and grime and into a dark look into contemporary Americana.

Latour’s artwork (with some “color assist” from Rico Renzi) is absolutely stunning. The opening spread is, without any qualification or explanation needed, f**king perfect. Period. If you don’t want to read this book—or “get” this book—after that first page, then this probably isn’t the book for you.

Verdict

Buy. Southern Bastards #1 is an enthralling new creator-owned comic from Image. Jason Aaron and Jason Latour are delving into some serious stuff in some of the more under-reported, under-represented corners of American culture, and they bring the black humor, the violence, and the artistic chops to turn Southern Bastards into something truly substantial. Check it! 

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