Previously: Southern Bastards #15
After a bit of a delay, Southern Bastards #16 is here, and boy does it blow things wide open. Not only does Coach Boss sink lower than even he has before, but this issue introduces us to an even larger pond full of oh-so-many unsavory fish-like characters. Also, a tiny monkey drives a damn car.
Road trip! This issue takes us on the road; not just on the field with an away game for the Runnin’ Rebs, but also into the atmosphere of this town. Not since issue #11, that of the character I deemed “Backwoods Batman”, has an issue of this series so heavily traded on the substantial talents of its artist Jason Latour.
Of course, every issue of this series has been illustrated terrifically, but every so often we get one that just puts Latour’s abilities on full display. Here, he so vividly creates the town of Locust Fork, and he does so without a single word of Jason Aaron’s dialogue for several splash panels to begin this issue’s cold open. In just a couple of pages, you feel like you completely understand this new locale.
The Rebs have lost two games in a row, as we know, and this away game in Locust Fork is very important. We knew, after the previous issue, Coach Boss was about to mix his off-the-field criminal activities with his on-the-field ambitions. This game in Locust Fork is a must-win situation, so Coach Boss’ actions can probably be guessed. What is absolutely wonderful about this situation is the simple fact that we know, through the “Gridiron” story arc, Coach Boss’ experience as a player and how he was kept from playing for a time because of an “off-the-field” injury. When you watch him, knowing his past, speak to a Locust Fork player, you actually believe the things he is saying; they’re the kinds of things a megalomaniac might say, sure, but you still believe he means them.
Later in the issue, if the aforementioned splash panels were not enough, the introduction of Colonel McKlusky, Locust Fork’s resident used car salesman/monkey owner/Burt Reynolds impersonator/???, gives you a crystal clear idea of just what kind of place Locust Fork may be; hint, it’s probably got a lot in common with our Craw County and its BBQ restaurant owner/football coach/???.
So, in just one issue, the world of Southern Bastards just got so much larger, and we haven’t even gotten to Roberta Tubb and her imminent revenge tale–well, it’s coming in the next issue.
As we learned in the previous issue, each issue of the “Gut Check” arc is set to have a different variant cover by a different artist, and each variant cover will feature Roberta Tubb. This issue’s variant cover (seen to the right) is from Jason Latour himself. It began life as an image Latour created in response to sexism experienced by the creative team behind Marvel’s recently cancelled Mockingbird series, and it has now become an homage paid here to artist Joelle Jones’ cover of Mockingbird #8.
Proceeds from sales of the variant cover will be split between the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union. This is the second charity variant cover Southern Bastards has had; the previous such endeavor was a variant cover for issue #10, which raised $18,000 for the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund.
This issue ambitiously expands the world of Southern Bastards, and it succeeds on the back of Jason Latour’s terrific ability to construct a new locale in just a page and a half.
On top of that, the downward spiral of Coach Boss into someone he has never wanted to be is captured beautifully in a single scene between he and a rival player.
Southern Bastards #16
"Gut Check - Part 2"
Southern Bastards #16 | Writer: Jason Aaron | Art & Color: Jason Latour | Letters: Jared K. Fletcher | Editor: Sebastian Girner | Variant Cover Art: Jason Latour | Publisher: Image Comics