By Jason Aaron & Jason Latour
Southern Bastards is finally back, kicking off the third arc. One would expect things to hit the fan and delve into some heavy action, but Jason Aaron and Jason Latour take the road less traveled. This issue is purely a character piece, which looks to be the theme/structure for this arc. The Sheriff of Craw County takes center stage, where the creative team chronicles his backstory and how he became such a spineless law man. Whether recent events will change him for better or worse…that’s for readers to find out.
Aaron knew what we wanted, without us even being aware. He presents such depth and emotion in this one book alone that other entire comic series rarely pay attention to or delve into. This direction for the story may have a been a total surprise, but it is arguably the best issue to date. These creators take such an ancillary character and suffuse him with so much pathos that it breaks one’s heart. They make the audience invested in Hardy’s situation, all the while he becomes undone. This is perfect story execution that will tug at the heart-strings and make readers question their own place in this world. Yes, it’s that emotionally charged.
To fully realize the material, the imagery has to be grounded and, of course, Latour is able to do just that. The dry, dramatic color scheme continues to convey a sense of unease and grit that works so well with the content. Red becomes even more important in scenes of violence. Southern Bastards is proof that there is truth in simplicity, but there is nothing simple about the character designs and expressions. Latour really nails the look of pain, depression and blind indifference. One couldn’t necessarily pick out just one thing that really illustrates this because it’s a culmination of everything in the panel. The symbiosis of the Jasons makes this such a brilliant title.
This is a series that I hope will be talked about for years to come, and this issue has such resonance that it warrants particular attention. Newcomers should immediately pick up the first two trades and catch-up. Current fans…just get to your shop – You won’t regret it!