Previously: Southern Bastards #14
Southern Bastards #15 | Writer: Jason Aaron | Art & Color: Jason Latour | Letters: Jared K. Fletcher | Editor: Sebastian Girner | Variant Cover Art: Becky Cloonan | Publisher: Image Comics
Following a nearly 6-month hiatus, we can finally say we have Southern Bastards back in our lives, and it could not come a day too soon. I have been itching to see just how Aaron and Latour would follow the fantastic “Homecoming” arc, and this issue begins so many interesting story lines. It truly is “Gut Check” time.
If it’s not obvious, Southern Bastards #15 begins an arc that is titled “Gut Check”. Not only is that phrase uttered in the issue, but every panel is dripping with its meaning. After the previous arc ended with Coach Boss’ Runnin’ Rebs losing both their Defensive Coordinator and, perhaps more importantly to the people of Craw County, the homecoming game against their rival Wetumpka County, the old ball coach is unraveling at the seams.
As we’ve seen throughout most of the previous fourteen issues, Coach Boss is always focused on the football field. Yes, he’s involved in plenty of criminal activities, but those are just his hobbies, and he’s doggedly kept those two lives separated (mostly). His life revolves around football and coaching his team, something he’s been mighty successful at for many years. As a result of that success, and because the town cares just as much about football as he does, Coach Boss has grown into the kind of monster who can beat a man to death with a tree branch in the middle of the street and not have anyone question him (sounds eerily like current American politics, but I digress).
The football team isn’t doing so hot, though. After losing Coach Big, he of the masterful defensive coordination that actually won Coach Boss all those games, and that homecoming game, Coach Boss is being questioned by the townspeople. You can kill a guy, or several guys, but you better do so while keeping the team on top. That’s the message Coach Boss is getting, as we begin this new arc, and he’s getting it from all angles, including Esaw with his bad ideas. “Gut Check” is about to see Coach Boss mix his two lives together, and it’s not going to be pretty for anyone.
As if that weren’t enough, don’t think I have forgotten about Roberta Tubb coming to town to kick all the ass it has to offer. Yes, she is here, and she presents a bigger threat to Coach Boss than the Tonganoxie Bulldogs with the next Rob Gronkowski at tight end. This issue teases so much going forward, and it feels like the entire world of Southern Bastards is about to erupt.
As you can see, Jason Aaron’s writing is spinning multiple plates, and it is glorious. As always, that engrossing writing is completed perfectly by Jason Latour’s illustration which goes so far toward showing Coach Boss’ deterioration and how it is effecting the mood of everyone around him. In no other character is this more visible than in Materhead who has taken over Coach Big’s defensive coordinator duties and is drowning in them. Materhead was meek and oafish before, but he’s been rendered downright cherubic here.
Also making its return is the series’ letters section and the ever-present recipe sent in my a reader; this time, it’s a dish that calls for an entire goat’s head to be used. I can say I probably will not be giving that one a go. Beyond that, Jason Aaron does mention the series’ Eisner Award wins this summer, where it picked up Best Continuing Series and helped Aaron, himself, win Best Writer. Also mentioned is a cool variant cover program they’re doing for all of “Gut Check”, which will see a different artist provide a variant cover featuring Roberta Tubb for each issue; this month’s is by Becky Cloonan (Southern Cross).
Southern Bastards #15
In beginning this new arc, Southern Bastards sets Coach Boss on a path that will test him in ways not yet explored, and I’m not so sure Craw County will be able to pass.
Jason Aaron’s writing continues to deliver more and more intriguing areas for these characters to develop inside of, and Jason Latour’s artwork bends and flexes right alongside.