writer: Jason Aaron / artist: Jason Latour
So here’s what some would consider a bold statement: Issues 4,5 and 6 of Southern Bastards are the best 3 issues in succession for a comic book this year. Don’t really know if it’s close to be honest. After the tragic events of the fourth issue and the death of Earl Tubbs (the story’s protagonist up to that point), issue five shifted to a deep dive of his killer, Coach Boss and things got pretty dark. So, we had no idea just how dark things were going to get. This issue shows how Coach Boss came to be in one of the more disturbing and brilliant narratives I’ve seen in a comic book this year. And I was, lets say, concerned. The introduction of Ol Big, the old, black, blind manager had me SUPER concerned. Halfway through, while loving the overall narrative and story, I was almost ready to concede that one of my favorite comics was going to use the “magic negro” trope ala Bagger Vance or The Help. For about 3 minutes, I was pretty depressed about it. Without spoiling the end of this book, I am happy to say that that isn’t the case.
The issue, this whole book by extension, just does this story right. The integration of Latour’s on point pencils interwoven with the forward movement of the plot is superb. The small revelation and injection of the black football players into the story could not have been handled better and added a cool and realistic aspect to the story.
Read this book. Start from the beginning. It is NOT an easy read. Read it anyway. It’s unique, brutal, authentic and masterfully done.