Southern Bastards #1: Deep Fried Crime
Three things frequently come to mind when thinking about the deep south: church, football, and home cookin’. Throw in a bit of immoral lawlessness and you have your recipe for Jason Aaron’s latest from Image Comics, Southern Bastards.
Written by Jason Aaron (of Scalped fame) and drawn by Jason Latour, Southern Bastards is set in the gritty town of Craw County, Alabama. A familiar landscape to Aaron and Latour who both grew up south of the Mason-Dixon line. The story opens on Earl Tubbs, a man returning to his hometown after a nearly forty-year absence.
Earl’s father, the town’s former sheriff, is legendary for his wicked temper and skill wielding a—now infamous—baseball bat. Upon his return home to deal with some much needed family business, Earl reflects on his father’s violence in colorful flashback sequences wonderfully executed by Latour. Earl comes to realize a lot has changed in Craw since he left and confronts a palpable sense of danger. The town is now run by the mysterious coach of the Runnin’ Reds football team and owner of Boss’s BBQ, Euless Boss. Boss is the head of this anarchist municipality and clearly has his own definition of justice.
As the daughter of a retired police detective, I get a twisted kick out of piecing together a dark and obscure puzzle and discovering the motives of flawed humans. While I didn’t learn much about the reasoning behind Boss’ evil deeds in this first issue, I was certainly persuaded to continue on the journey that Jason Aaron is crafting. Aaron creates such a vivid world that I found myself reading each word in a thick southern accent. Additionally, the artwork of Jason Latour perfectly fits Aaron’s grimy and bloodied narrative making each character feel tangible and real.
My “Yankee,” city girl mind has always felt a strange preoccupation with the deep south and its self-imposed set of rules that I just don’t always understand. These two southern boys clearly enjoy having us tag along on their crime adventure through the complicated Bible Belt. As Aaron so eloquently proclaims in his editor’s note at the back of the issue, “I love the South. The South also scares the living shit out of me.”
I’m with ya’ Jason. Now pass them grits and pour me a sweet tea!