If you’ve ever lived in the Deep South, you know it’s like a world unto itself. Normal rules don’t seem to apply and after a while, even the most absurd conditions can become just a regular part of everyday existence. Hardly ever has it been captured authentically. Well, Southern Bastards #2 does just that…and it does it in spades. Small town America is displayed on paper for the whole world to see. If you haven’t lived in the South then you may be in for quite a shock.
We are all a product of our environment. People may argue that point until they are blue in the face but I stand firm in my belief that the people and places in our early lives help to shape and mold us into who we are, for better or for worse. Never has this been more apparent than with Earl Tubb and his return to Craw County, Alabama. They say you can’t go home again and Earl would wholeheartedly agree. Committing a few days to the packing up of his childhood home, he is forced to relive some painful memories involving his father, Sheriff “Big Bert” Tubb. His father was a man of action who never let anything by. And his hardheadedness seems to have passed down to his son, judging from the way Earl can’t just let things lie.
All problems seem to originate on the head of the high school football team, Coach Boss. It’s a lot like the big fish in a little pond concept, honestly. Multiple businesses in town are either owned or run by the coach, with his former student/players acting as his bully boys. When a friend his hurt by these thugs, Earl takes it personally. Finding no assistance forthcoming from the local law enforcement, he is forced to look deep inside himself as to what action he should take. Deciding to leave and turn his back on the past just won’t do, for fate has something in store for this former sheriff’s son. And when fate lends him a hand, you better watch out because it’s a doozy.
Jason Aaron‘s story embodies what a lot of us see in the South: small town mentality. What may have once been a thriving municipality has become a shell of its former self. It’s dirty, real, and not too over the top. The fear and dread is almost palpable, but never more so than with Jason Latour‘s artwork there to help the reader visualize the setting. Bold lines in the art reflect the hard edges of the citizens of this remote community. The combination of stark visuals and pointed dialogue really embrace the culture you can find peppering the South. It is almost uncanny the way they have delivered a story that seems both realistic and exaggerated all at once.
I have no doubt that someone, somewhere, will be offended by my review or perhaps even the source material. To those people I say: shut it! I feel completely able to make this judgement call as I have lived in the Deep South for decades; the city in which I live is surrounded by smaller communities much like the one presented in the story. That’s not to say that every small town is like that, but more than a few are, unfortunately. Essentially, this is a great comic. It has everything going for it and it’s steeped in awesomeness. And though it is more than a little violent, this is a comic I think almost any adult will enjoy, or at least appreciate. Pick this one up as soon as you can, you’ll never look at southern small towns the same again.