Previously: Southern Bastards #10
It has been a long 2+ months since I’ve had the distinct pleasure of reading an issue of Jasons Aaron and Latour’s masterpiece of southern crime drama Southern Bastards and then spewing my reaction to said issue here for you to read and hopefully enjoy (or at least tolerate). I am glad to say this issue was well worth the wait in gold.
This issue, titled “You’re Lookin’ At Country”, follows suit with the preceding issues in this arc: focusing on a single character and telling you just what the hell they are doing in the week leading up to Craw County High School’s homecoming football game. Here, we are introduced to a character who was teased in the previous issue: “The Bowhunter”. He’s given a name, Deacon Boone, and he’s given an identity that I believe can be succinctly described as “Backwoods Batman”.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#4A7097″ class=”” size=””]Everything Aaron’s writing evokes from my brain is put right on the page by Latour.[/pullquote]
I say that, but perhaps Boone is better compared to Bane, as he seems to represent a character who did not merely adopt the darkness but was born into it; or he’s at least learned to thrive within it like the character of Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Although, if we go down that road, Boone is more akin to Marlon Brando’s version of Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. These are the things I am made–forced–to think about when I read Southern Bastards, and that is why I simply cannot love reading Southern Bastards any more than I do. It is an exercise in literary excellence every month (or two).
Along with breaking my brain like Batman’s back over Bane’s knee with conflicting thoughts about darkness, Jason Aaron’s writing in this issue also manages to be uproariously funny with its references to things like Piggly Wiggly and–and–terrifyingly familiar to me as a non-religious person who has spent his entire life in the south and is now reading such genuine snake-charmer evangelism in the pages of this issue that I have to laugh out loud to keep from crying. It’s both hilarious and honestly scary how accurate the church scenes are in this issue, as we are introduced to the town of Piney Woods, an even smaller and woodsier place than the town we’ve seen up to now.
Jason Latour continues his amazing work alongside Jason Aaron; as realistic as the dialogue is, it wouldn’t be nearly as funny or elicit as visceral a reaction from me without Latour’s ability to capture it. However, the comedy will hit on one page, and then the next page will be plastered with a beautiful stretch panel of what seems to be digital watercolors, but don’t quote me on that; I just know it’s awesome.
The team of Jason Aaron and Jason Latour is such a good match; we already know that, since we’ve seen ten issues of Southern Bastards before this one, but this is a showcase of that combination. Everything Aaron’s writing evokes from my brain is put right on the page by Latour. The Batman vibes, the Heart of Darkness vibes, all of it.
As always, the issue concludes with the letters section, and this issue feels like its letters section is giant-sized at four full pages. They’re not wasted, though. Most of the reader correspondence is in response to Latour’s confederate flag essay included in the previous issue; most positive, and some not. There are two awesome things here, though:
1. Because a lot of the letters were addressed directly to Latour, he joins Aaron to respond, and the combination of his comments and Aaron’s banter with them (presumably not written at the same time) are great. At one point, a response from Latour encourages a reader to check out Aaron’s other work; this is followed by Aaron jokingly dismissing Latour’s pity plugs before relenting and suggesting the reader do look into his other work with this bit of description: “They’re like Spider-Gwen, only with less Gwen and better Jason.”
2. A reader sent in a recipe for isaw, a dish from the Philippines that sounds like the name of character Esaw Goings and which Jason Aaron describes as “Filipino chitlins”.
There’s nothing more I should have to say for anyone who isn’t reading this series to go out right now and buy every issue. If you are on the fence, however, this is a fantastic issue to read–as a standalone story–to finally see if this is a series you will enjoy. If you don’t like this issue, you won’t like Southern Bastards. This is the go-to issue, now, for me to tell people to read to decide if they like the series.
The next issue will change things up, as Jason Latour will be writing, with guest artist Chris Brunner providing the artwork. As much as I enjoy the combination of Aaron and Latour, I’m a little anxious about this, but the series has bought more than enough credit from me to eliminate any worries at all.
Southern Bastards #11
With its standalone plot that also manages to find intriguing ties to the overarching story of the series, beautiful artwork that combines with the plot to evoke powerful thoughts, and dialogue that is scarily real, this issue is arguably the best the series has yet to offer.