Southern Bastards, Vol. 1

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Important Note Dept: As you can probably guess, I’ve been a bit busy with Real Life(TM) this summer, and while I’ve been productive at many things, I sure as hell have not been productive at blogging—I’ve been reading at a glacial pace, which caused my writing to lag as well since I need to, y’know, read things before I can review them. Rather than disappoint everyone with silence, instead I’ll just post reviews of things most of you don’t care about: graphic novel reviews and art posts! I have a bunch of short graphic novel reviews stockpiled on Goodreads and elsewhere, and some half-completed art posts I can finish up. What a time to be alive!

Image Comics – 2014 – Jason Latour

After 40 years spent fleeing Craw, Alabama, Earl Tubb finds himself drawn back to it one more time to box up the family home. He’s spent most of his life living in the shadow of his father, dead these same 40 years, a sheriff who vigorously enforced the law with a heavy stick, dealing out justice without having to resort to judges and juries. In Earl’s absence, Craw has fallen under the influence of the man named Coach Boss, who manages the Runnin’ Rebs high school football team as well as the town’s mysterious and seedy underbelly. All Earl wants to do is get his heirlooms, and get out. But when one of his classmates is murdered, and a young boy is brutally beaten, Earl is sucked into the role of his father—a cop dishing out street justice with the aid of a heavy wooden bludgeon.

This is a southern-fried crime comic, all right, not a surprise since it’s written by Jason Aaron (who wrote the masterful Scalped for Vertigo) and illustrated by Jason Latour (who wrote the fantastic Loose Ends for Image). At its core, Southern Bastards is a tale about a man coming to terms with both his past and his future, with Earl haunted by flashbacks of his father, presented in a bold, monochromatic color scheme, all pale yellows and browns until it’s a rich assault of red-orange flashbacks. What Earl’s up against is a brutal crime lord who holds the keys to the town’s mysteries… things that Earl doesn’t even get a chance to uncover in volume 1.

The gritty and vibrant Southern Bastards is a must for fans of southern-fried crime fiction. If you’ve read something like Scalped or Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard novels, then you’ve seen this side of Southern crime before, all blood and barbecue, swearing and sweet tea, football and fall-guys. But the strong characterization, great dialogue, and bold artwork make Southern Bastards a standout; it puts all the usual elements of “Redneck noir” into a tight-knit noir drama, and does everything right in the process. It left me hooked and eager to dive into Volume 2, which did not disappoint. Small wonder it earned a fistful of award noms.

Book Details
Do I recommend this/will I continue reading it?: Yes, I’ve already bought/read volume two and will continue to buy future volumes as they’re released.
Recommended for fans of: Scalped, Criminal, Loose Ends, that Rock movie Walking Tall, Joe R. Lansdale’s redneck noir novels.
Not recommended for readers who: don’t like violent/depressing reads; feel like they’ve been here and done that and don’t want to see another gritty take on Southern crime.
Title: Southern Bastards, Vol. 1: Here Was A Man
Author: Jason Aaron
Illustrator: Jason Latour
First Published: 2014
What I Read: Kindle/Comixology digital edition
Price I Paid: $7.99
MSRP: $9.99 tpb / $7.99 ebook ($3.99 Kindle/Comixology)
ISBN/ASIN: 1632150166 / B015XCCIBS