by Jason Aaron & Jason Latour
It is pretty cool to see these creative pairings in comics that tend to stick together. Jason Aaron and Jason Latour are one of those teams, and Southern Bastards feels like a passion project where the two creators are quite at home in this new world they are crafting. From the opening moments, between story and art, readers are going to recognize that this story is not meant to be pretty. It every bit encompasses its title and the spirit of this part of the country. This looks like it will be a great immersion into a very distinct culture.
Earl Tubb is the first character readers are introduced to in the story as he speaks to some unseen person on the phone. Throughout the first issues, readers witness pieces of the story that are not quite clear. As the story progresses readers see pieces of some altercation that took place on the steps of Tubb’s home when he was a child. The images are fragmented and, while aspects are alluded to, nothing is explained to the reader. It is an interesting choice that, when complemented with a few mentions by other characters, blurs just who Earl’s father was and whether he was a good person.
Like some of Aaron’s previous work, there is a lot of grey in the writing of these characters. Though this first issue follows along with Earl Tubb, it is not terribly clear if he is a good person. Likewise, most of the other characters that the readers meet in the first issue of Southern Bastards have a number of traits that provide good reason to question them. When Earl is approached by Dusty, the exchange shifts quickly, and again readers are left wondering what history is going unsaid. This is a small town and one that is governed by its own set of laws. The South looks to be its own character and the remarks that Aaron and Latour make at the end of the issue should provide some insight into just how much of an influence this environment will have.
Throughout the first issue of Southern Bastards, there is little beauty on display. Not only does Aaron’s script place all of the characters highlighted as some shade of grey, but Latour’s art and coloring is muddy and unattractive. There is nothing polished and symmetrical within the pages of this issue. It strikes a very distinct tone and it is an effective pairing to the story.
This story speaks to the culture of the south. It is an intimate setting of small towns where everyone knows everyone. More importantly, everyone knows everyone’s secrets. Southern Bastards looks to showcase a world where the rules work a bit differently and violence is always waiting.