Cruel. Raw. Graphic. Violent. These are all adjectives that could, and have been, used to describe Jason Aaron and Jason Latour’s Southern Bastards. One word that should also be used, though, is realistic. This isn’t a series about super heroes that swoop in at the right moment to save the day. This is a story of a broken man who left his hometown to escape his father, and his father’s legacy. This is the story of Earl Tubbs and his unwilling return to Craw County, Alabama.
Earl is a simple man who returns to his hometown to pack away his uncle’s house. His plan is to stay three days and leave. He has no intention of spending any more time in Craw County than necessary. However, it quickly becomes apparent that after his father, the former Sheriff, passed away the town was taken over by Coach Boss. Boss is the coach of the local high school football team and uses his players to carry out his less than legal side businesses. As far as plot goes, I’ll leave it at that as a lot of things are purposefully kept in the dark in the first couple of issues.
Jason Aaron has already garnered praise for other series like Scalped, Wolverine, Thor: God of Thunder and currently the Marvel event series Original Sin. He has a talent for writing epic stories and still focusing on character development. I think with Southern Bastards he has given himself the opportunity to tell a smaller scale story and focus even more on character. And I feel like the series is all the better for it. Jason Latour, whose credits include Winter Soldier, B.P.R.D, Django Unchained, and Scalped brings amazing artwork that almost tells a story itself. His style is superbly suited to the story being told, and the setting.
What first intrigued me about Southern Bastards is that its writer and its artist both grew up in the South. Being from the south, I was hesitant when I picked up the first issue because I was worried about the way life in the South might be depicted. But I can tell you, from first hand experience, that the two Jasons have it spot on. Some of these characters in the book could be replaced with people I grew up with. Except maybe with slightly less crime and murder.
This is one of my favorite series currently running. It has an intriguing story, amazing art, and two creators who know the subject matter. They know what it’s like to love the South and to hate it all at the same time. They know what it’s like to look back fondly on their childhoods there, but to be afraid of it enough to never want to go back again. They know small southern towns, and they know the people that live in them. But first and foremost, they know how to make a comic that’s about as close to perfect as a comic can be. I feel like this will be looked back on as a true achievement in comics, and since there have only been three issues published I think now would be a great time to jump in and catch up. This series is going places and trust me, you’re going to want to be along for the ride.