by Jason Aaron & Jason Latour
If there was ever any doubt that Earl Tubb would be staying in his hometown longer than he had planned, the end of issue #2 and what comes in issue #3 are a good sign that this story is staying put for some time. Aaron and Latour have expressed their love of the South already and it is with no malice that they write this tale. But the story they have to tell is not a pretty one, and the slow burn story of Craw County, Alabama is just getting started.
Issue two ended with a truly magical moment, one that plays with the concept of fate a bit more than would have been expected from such a grounded and raw book. However, Aaron and Latour scripted the scene so well that any notion of fantasy could be excused as great storytelling. Earl Tubb, like many children, finds himself walking the same path as his father before him despite many efforts to go a different way. Following an incredibly violent cover image, the story opens bluntly. Earl is not going anywhere soon and he makes sure that everyone in Craw County and anyone reading along is well aware of just how serious he is. The sequence is brutal and may even get a few readers to throw their fists up in celebration. Esaw is not a good person and he gets what is coming to him. But reader’s should know these types of bold choices are not without their consequences.
Over the course of the issue, the story covers just a few scenes. Aaron keeps the scope of Southern Bastards rather small, only involving a few major characters so far. Readers get to see a bit more of Coach Boss and it is an excellent scene. Latour does a fantastic job with the visuals, both in the pacing of the scenes and in the physicality of the men involved. Boss fluctuates between prepping for the game and addressing the concerns that Earl has created as if they are all part of the same preparation plan. It is fascinating to watch the conversation progress with Coach’s play against Earl coming off as though it is just another page in the playbook.
The story comes to an ending that readers will despise and simultaneously love. This is good writing. From a mile away, Aaron telegraphs what is bound to happen in the final moments of this issue as Esaw and his boys are sent to be rid of the distraction. Latour continues to shape this entire world in a way that feels slightly broken, decaying. There is very little to admire in the way of conventional beauty in this book. Scenes like the empty room at Boss BBQ and the deep shadows that stretch across the final panels all strike an emotion that remains consistent with the script. Aaron and Latour, as a team, deliver a great, unified tone that continues to make this story so successful.