Previously: Southern Bastards #16
It’s been seven months since January delivered us one of the best issues Southern Bastards’ now more than three-year run has seen. Sometimes such a delay can be frustrating; given the circumstances, this is absolutely not one of those times. It is nice to have this series back, though, and this issue brings it back with a fucking vengeance.
“It’s a damn dangerous game we play.” – Coach Boss.
Alright, so the previous issue introduced us to Locust Fork, a new rival for Coach Boss and Craw County’s Runnin’ Rebs football team. That issue expanded the world of Southern Bastards so much because it so deftly crafted this entirely new setting in so few pages. It also introduced Colonel Quick McKlusky, a used car salesman and the biggest booster for Locust Fork. He is essentially Coach Boss without the coaching half of his life. As we know, and as we see here, the “coaching half” of Coach Boss is more like a “coaching seven-eighths”.
What I love about this issue, and I do love it quite a bit, is just how satisfying it is. Frankly, I liken it a bit to how satisfying this season of Game of Thrones has been. No, the two titles are not telling anywhere near the same story, but the similarity is in how well each story is being told. In both Southern Bastards and Game of Thrones, you have characters who are not only three-dimensional but whom you have personally watched being built. Don’t worry; I’m not getting into any Game of Thrones spoilers. For Southern Bastards, however, it’s Coach Boss. We’ve seen not only who he is right now but also exactly how he became that person and who helped make him.
It’s with all this foreknowledge we can see just how far Coach Boss has fallen and why Colonel McKlusky has us at the risk of, dare I say, rooting for Coach Boss again? Coach Boss is a megalomaniacal asshole, but he’s our megalomaniacal asshole. It’s a hell of a testament to Jason Aaron and Jason Latour that Coach Boss has been weakened to the point where I feel sorry for him. I mean, I still don’t like him and hope he ultimately gets what’s coming to him; I just don’t want it to be McKlusky or any other outside forces giving it to him.
That brings me to the next best thing about this issue: Roberta Tubb is finally making her move. That’s right, and because of how the issue is constructed, she comes in right as you are at your most vulnerable. You spend so much time watching Esaw and his dumbass Zubaz continue fucking up that you allow those potential defensive feelings to start creeping in–then wham! Roberta is like “No. I’m here now”, and you remember just whose side you’re really on. It’s such good storytelling.
With so much plot taking place, and there is much more than I’ve even touched on here, Jason Latour had a hell of a task illustrating it all. Luckily, he’s pretty damn good at this whole “art” thing and passed this test with flying colors. Literally, you know, since it’s art we’re talking about. From action scenes with bullets blazing, to blazing fires, to the intensity of the blazing sun literally setting on Coach Boss and Sheriff Hardy: it’s all just so well done and wonderfully pieced together. Jason Latour also, as usual, provided the cover, this month featuring Colonel McKlusky in mustard yellow. This issue’s variant cover, featuring Roberta Tubb, was provided by Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman, Paper Girls).
Lastly, there are no letters here, and that is because the back matter is entirely dedicated to explaining the delay in publishing this issue. Succinctly, both Jason Latour and Southern Bastards’ editor Sebastian Girner recently lost their fathers. Dealing with that understandably took priority over bringing us entertainment. We offer our condolences to the Latour and Girner families.