Previously, “Issue #5”
This month, Southern Bastards continues its fantastic run with another issue dedicated to the twisted and oddly sad origin story of the series’ main antagonist, Coach Euless Boss. Along with more flashbacks, issue #6 includes racial tension, a reference to Peyton Manning’s now-infamous “OMAHA!” audible cry, and biscuit recipes. It has everything.
The plot here is relatively straighforward: Euless continues to play football and routinely get his ass handed to him by everyone with any semblance of authority over him, until he meets someone who has the ability to help him finally get over; someone who still treats him harshly but with better intentions than anyone else in Boss’ life.
While the centerpiece of this issue, like the one before it, is the young Euless “Useless” Boss and his fruitless attempts to earn a spot on the Runnin’ Rebs high school football team, this issue actually expands upon itself to actually chronicle the story of three coaches: the young Euless who will become Coach Boss, the asshole coach who refuses to cut young Useless any slack, and a pivotal character introduced in this issue. I really like the triptych of these three coaches and how Coach Boss seems to be an amalgam of the other two from whom he learned.
There isn’t just one character introduced in this issue; oh, no. This month, we get to lay our eyes upon the man who is Euless Boss’ father, Olis Boss, and let me tell you: he is quite frankly a chicken-fucking lunatic and a grade-A dickhole, to boot. It feels terrible to say this about such a horrible “person”, but I love this character; rather, I love his existence. The previous issue went a long way to explain a bit more about where the old man Coach Boss came from and who he used to be, but this issue takes that several steps further and shows you why things ultimately went the way they did; his father is a major reason.
With issue #5, the series’ creators, Jasons Aaron and Latour, gave Coach Boss some much-needed depth. Up to that point, he was a fairly two-dimensional bad guy who just always seemed to do assholish things because he was an asshole. This issue, though, does much more to actually humanize that asshole. You actually root for him, and that is something you never would have thought possible just two issues ago. That’s a fantastic job the two Jasons have done.
In its first arc, Southern Bastards firmly established itself as a southern crime drama, and whether it’s Vito Corleone playing in the garden with his grandson in The Godfather; Tommy, Jimmy, and Henry having dinner with Tommy’s mother in Goodfellas; or any number of other moments in other stories, it’s always important to have moments where your bad guys are shown to not be that bad. Even though it’s temporary, those moments make your characters real people, and they can make you understand just a little more about where the character came from. That’s how you create meaningful conflict, and that’s exactly what these issues focusing on Euless Boss’ origin are doing.
Coach Boss’ early years will continue into next month, and it cannot wait to get my hands on that issue to see what happens next.