PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Reviews

Good Ol’ Fashioned Showdown: “Southern Bastards #2”

Steven Michael Scott

Co-creators Jason Aaron and Jason Latour remind us at every turn that we’re in the Deep South and its inhabitants play by a different set of rules here.


Southern Bastards #2

Publisher: Image
Length: 22 pages
Writer: Jason Aaron, Jason Latour
Price: $3.99
Publication Date: 2014-07
Amazon

A comic about rednecks in Alabama could never sell, right? Jason Aaron and Jason Latour aim to prove anyone in doubt dead wrong. After the first issue sold out at the distributor level, the southern duo have an instant hit on their hands and are back with more violence, football and mangled English than you can shake a stick at. Speaking of, Southern Bastards clearly wears its influences on its sleeve, referencing everything from the wooden club-wielding sheriff of Walking Tall to the works of William Faulkner. It’s their love letter to the south where the creators both hail from. Or is it a hate letter? While the pair are both proud of their roots, they clearly have mixed feelings about their respective places of origin. I guess it’s more of a tough love letter then.

As established in the previous issue, middle aged Earl Tubb has returned home after forty long years away from Craw County, Alabama, the setting for this epic in the making. The Jasons pour it on thick, reminding us at every turn that we’re in the Deep South and its inhabitants play by a different set of rules here. Football and machismo are king and empathy for the weak is in short supply. Case in point; a game in play won’t even take a time out for a battered man bleeding out on the field. This is the south, warts and all, and the storytellers aren’t going to take it easy on their creations or us readers for that matter.

Of course the violence won’t make the average reader bat an eye who’s familiar with Aaron’s previous series, Scalped. It’s a way of life for these characters and you soon become desensitized to it as you do when watching a Tarantino movie. In that sense it’s difficult for the story to shock us this early on while we’re still getting to know our cast. But this comic isn’t just an excuse for Latour to draw southerners beating the crap out of each other. At the heart of this story is the relationship between Earl and his deceased father, a man who was once Sheriff round these parts and devoted his life to cleaning up the town but couldn’t do it alone. It’s obvious we’re meant to root for Earl, but he’s still a mostly blank canvas for now.

There’s a lot of backstory to be filled in between now and when he first escaped his birthplace. Equally, we know we’re rooting against Coach Boss, a man who inexplicably has the sheriff’s department under his thumb and wears an evil scowl on his face at all times. He’s a bastard for sure, but time will tell if we eventually love to hate him.

Now that the roles of good vs. evil have been carved out, we’ve got the pieces in place for a good ol’ fashioned showdown. Except Earl’s family business here is finished. He came back to pack up his recently deceased uncle’s house and get in and out in three days tops. It should come as no surprise that his plans don’t exactly go according to plan. Anyone who thought he was leaving that easily wasn’t paying attention as the struggle to carry on his father’s work, while a heavy burden, is one he can’t simply ignore. Craw County needs a savior. It needs Earl. And maybe part of him needs it too. Perhaps his life has lost meaning in the past few decades and there was a hole in his life that needed filling. Protecting this county from harm is his destiny. Aaron’s work on Thor: God of Thunder seeps in as Earl has his God of Thunder moment and a hero emerges while suspending realism for a grand finale. So far this book has been a slow burn, but this dynamic moment promises that Earl will begin the next issue with renewed purpose, now that the torch has been officially passed and he has his mission laid out in front of him.

This is not the kind of book that Aaron and Latour could have debuted with right out of the gate. Clearly this is the work of seasoned pros, and it’s a very promising start, but it’s one that could have easily slipped under the radar if it weren’t for the star power attached. As mentioned previously, it’s not an easy sell. There isn’t a major hook or high concept you can point to in what is essentially a “ripped from the headlines” story. That’s not to say that I don’t like where it’s going or that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I put it down. The story sticks with you in unexpected ways, and the simplicity keeps it grounded. I was unaware of a demand for a crime drama set in Alabama but it’s always nice to be surprised by something you didn’t know you wanted and that’s where this book will continue to succeed if it keeps taking risks. Southern Bastards lives up to its name and cements the fact that Image is the place for top talent to create masterpieces.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.

Books

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon
Music

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.

Music

'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.

Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.