Previously: “Southern Bastards #8”
With their previous arc, “Gridiron”, all wrapped up in a bloody mess and Euless Boss firmly cemented in his piece-of-shitness, it’s time for Southern Bastards creators Jason Aaron and Jason Latour to once again go about reinventing the wheel, and they are off to a fantastic start with the first issue in their third arc: “Homecoming”.
As was revealed in the previous issue, “Homecoming” will follow a new character for each of its issues, and all issues will take place during the week leading up to the Runnin’ Rebs’ homecoming game against their rival: Wetumpka County. This issue focuses solely on Sheriff Hardy.
As the issue begins, Hardy is baring his soul in a monologue which establishes the issue’s theme–if not the entire arc and/or the series as a whole–what does it mean to be a man? When we look into the mirror and see the entirety of our past written across our faces, which of those memories define what we are and who we could have been? It’s this sort of introspection which lays the groundwork for what is to come in these next few issues.
In following a day in Sheriff Hardy’s life, we learn quite a bit about him as a man, especially since this particular day happens to be the same one in which Coach Big killed himself and was found by Coach Boss. It’s through Hardy’s eyes that, if for some reason any readers were still thinking Coach Boss had some redeemable qualities, we see Boss for the delusional mass of dysfunction and unchecked ego he really is. Coach Boss is a horrible person who was born into the corruption of Craw County and managed to build his castle on the sand of fear and repression. How long can it really be until it’s washed away, and could Sheriff Hardy be the tide finally rolling in on Boss?
Well, you’ll have to read the issue to find all of your answers, but I can remind you of just how well this series has been at fitting a dark cloud within every, single silver lining it can find. So far, nobody in this series has been perfect; some of them were born that way and some have been a product of their shitty environment, but the fact remains: this town has yet to meet its hero, and I’m not so sure it ever will. From everything we’ve seen, I don’t believe the catalyst for change in Craw County will surface from within, and that makes me very excited about all of the various possible implications of the arc’s title “Homecoming”.
This issue also features quite the different letters column, as the series’ artist Jason Latour takes over editorial duties from its writer Jason Aaron. As someone who follows Latour on social media, I’m aware of his personality and how it would appear to differ from Jason Aaron’s, but this was still a bit of a shock to the system; a very welcome shock, but a shock nonetheless. As I understand it, and I may be incorrect because it’s entirely conjecture, Latour isn’t able to regularly contribute to the letters section due his heavy art workload. It’s also the case that the series writer is almost always the person who handles letter response with Image comics (such columns are usually handled by editors with publishers like DC and Marvel), so it’s likely just a matter of them doing what they’re each most comfortable with. Whatever the case may be, I’d definitely enjoy Latour taking the reins for an issue of each arc. Variety is the spice of life, as they say (although, in the south, the spice of life happens to be salt).
Anyway, the next issue will follow a completely different person in Craw County, one of Coach Boss’ enforcers Esaw Goings, but I’d imagine he will cross paths with Sheriff Hardy, and I hope so because Hardy is yet another character Aaron and Latour have managed to fully flesh out in a relatively short space and, even though he’s not perfect, he may yet prove to cast a heavy shadow over Coach Boss’ future. See you bastards next month when we’ll be discussing Southern Bastards #10 (it’s hard to believe so much has happened in fewer than ten issues, isn’t it?).
In the news
On June 18, 2015, Deadline reported producer Scott Rudin has optioned Southern Bastards and is developing a potential series for the network FX. I love this development, and Jasons Aaron and Latour will serve as executive producers and will adapt it. The latter is the best part because, as well as Aaron and Latour have created the world of Southern Bastards and told their story, I don’t know if another writer could capture the perfection in a bottle. FX is a great place for the series, too. I was thinking Showtime, but FX has made an art of pushing their own envelope right up to the edge, so this could turn out amazing.