Previously: “Issue #6”
We continue the tale of Coach Euless Boss’ formative teenage years, in this issue, and since next month’s issue will see the finale of this “Gridiron” story arc, it’s no surprise we finally met the tough bastard whom we know has been living inside of Boss this whole time.
The issue begins with a meeting between Boss and Mozel, he of the foot-shooting earlier in the arc. I won’t go into the nature of the conversation, but it was played very well by Jasons Aaron and Latour; this felt so much like a seminal moment in Boss’ life. In the letters section of this issue, there are two readers who independently mention the possibility of Southern Bastards one day being realized in a film or on television. In his responses to these questions, Jason Aaron plays it off, as you would expect, but there is a reason this series elicits such thoughts from readers. Not only has Aaron’s writing created a realistic southern crime drama, rife with personality, but Jason Latour’s rich artwork–awash with warm reds that call to mind the perfect sunset on a humid southern evening–practically has the world of Southern Bastards leaping off the page. I read this series and, with every issue, I’m walking barefoot through a field of fresh-cut grass; wearing a new coat of tan and mosquito bites. It’s entirely too soon to think about Southern Bastards being put to film, and the last thing I would want to do is encourage the overlooking of what Jasons Aaron and Latour are doing in the here-and-now, but it’s undeniable that Southern Bastards has a visceral life beyond its pages.
To that end, this conversation between Euless and Mozel feels as theatrical as anything Southern Bastards has done to this point. This is writing, and this is plot coming together with artwork to showcase storytelling at its peak.
Also in this issue, we see Euless’ relationship with Ol’ Big continue to bloom, and that has an interesting impact on his relationship with Olis, his father. What I enjoy most about this relationship, Euless and Ol’ Big, is how endearing Ol’ Big is and how much this story arc has made me empathize with Euless. Before this arc, Euless was just a piece of shit, and that was the singular dimension of his character. Not only has this arc given him much-needed depth, but it has humanized him; that’s what a good villain origin story is supposed to do. Now, we’ll see where this leads us in next month’s arc finale, but right now, Euless has become the hero of the story… if only temporarily… okay, it’s definitely temporary, but still.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also comment on the parallel drawn–literally–in this issue between Ol’ Big and both Earl Tubb and his father. Ol’ Big takes a home run swing with his very own piece of lumber; well, symbolic lumber. All the best characters in this series get to swing away, at least once, and I hope that continues as a theme. I will certainly be keeping my eyes open for any similar hero moments in the future.
This issue takes the character of Euless Boss on a rollercoaster of identity; swinging from floundering lows to fully realized highs. He is a weak and broken boy, but he is a defiant and able son; he is a one-man wrecking machine on the football field, but he is an emasculated ball boy on the sidelines. This is teenage life, complete with the turmoil and uncertainty of growing up. This character has matured into a reality, and now we are very close to understanding everything about the Euless Boss we saw in Southern Bastards‘ first arc.
Southern Bastards is easily my favorite comic I’m reading right now, and that really is saying something because I do love C.O.W.L.. There’s just something more to Southern Bastards. Maybe it’s the fact that I, myself, am a southern bastard, or maybe the fact that the letters section contained not one but TWO more southern recipes (including pecan pie). I don’t know if those factors truly do make me like this series more than I otherwise would, but I do know Jasons Aaron and Latour are telling a hell of a story, nonetheless, and it almost feels like I’m cheapening their work to attribute any amount of the quality I see in it to any level of prejudice on my part. It’s just a damn fine comic series.