Published on April 3rd, 2015 | by Dapper Dan0
Southern Bastards 8 – Review
For love of the game…
Southern Bastards reaches the end of its second arc and if anyone thought the two Jasons, Aaron and Latour, would struggle to match the impact of the first arc’s climax, you’d be dead wrong.
After the shocking finale of Southern Bastards first arc, we’ve spent much of the second arc in flashbacks learning Coach Boss’ back story and the events that took him from a backwoods shack to running not only the football team, but Craw County itself. This arc, Gridiron, has really gone a long way towards showing what set the younger & hopeful Euless Boss on the path to becoming Coach Boss. As it turns out, everything comes down to football. There’s still plenty of time that has yet to be covered, between the then and the now, but hell if there hasn’t been a lot to pick up on already.
Much as Jason Aaron’s Scalped captured a very specific feeling and tone, of the Native American Reservations, so too does Southern Bastards. Between his and Jason Latour’s work here, Craw County comes to life. A heat-hazed, dusty life, soundtracked by the buzz of cicadas and the grunts of football players hitting tackle dummies at practice, or that might be three of Coach Boss’ heavies giving someone like Dusty Tutwiler a going-over for missing a payment. Who can tell?
Southern Bastards has always had quite a muted colour palette but this issue the red seeps through so much of the book that it’s like the pages are soaked with blood. It’s a very clever choice, given how Coach Boss’ hands are indelibly stained with the blood of those who stood in his way.
It’s quite the pleasure to find a comic that scratches the same itch that so many TV shows previously did. With the climax of Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad there’s been a real void in pop culture for charismatic bad people doing bad things. Everybody loves a good villain, and Coach Boss is certainly that. But as with all good villains, he’s got a history that may not excuse his behaviour, but certainly gives some understanding as to his personal justification.
In a way, Coach Boss has some similarities to Breaking Bad’s Walter White. Both men start out as ostensibly “good” people. Both Euless and Walter want the best for themselves and/or their families, but as they increasingly compromise themselves in pursuit of what they see as noble goals, they seem to transform; Hero to anti-hero, anti-hero to villain. Both Walter White and Coach Boss have long ago achieved the goals which set them on their paths, but they continue to undertake the same deplorable acts. Justifying to themselves that these are all necessary to defend what’s theirs, when in fact both men have become addicted to the power they wield. Southern Bastards 8 doesn’t necessarily provide Coach Boss with a “road to Damascus” moment, but we might be seeing the start of cracks in his empire.
With an ending that provides a real emotional punch to both the reader and the characters in the book, Southern Bastards second arc has more than matched the first. With an epilogue that feels like gathering storm clouds, the third arc promises to continue providing the same mix of drama and southern fried thrills.