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Southern Bastards Volume 1: Here Was a Man Paperback – October 14, 2014
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Southern Bastards makes me want to take a drive through the South, with its ribs and its sweet tea. It's awful. Earl Tubb is a great character, a former Marine, the son of the violent sheriff of Craw County who everybody hated. The comic is a great mystery, with only part of the story being revealed at a time. Earl's father carried a stick, and now Earl carries a stick of his own. Sure, a Southern man with a stick has been done before, but never this well. I can't wait to read Volume 2 when it comes out. *****
I don't do reviews often. Something has to really compel me to sit down and take the time to express it here. And for the most part, I'm a Jason Aaron fan. Scalped was a one-of-a-kind series. But I've read some of his Marvel work and have been pretty underwhelmed. My feeling is that his work shines when he is doing creator-owned stuff that is near-and-dear to his heart. Which is why I am excited to have picked up Southern Bastards. Here we see what Aaron does best: snappy, noire dialogue with genuine Southern dialect, and a crisp, simple plot with a few pleasant surprises.
But the true superstar of Southern Bastards is Jason Latour. Comics are riddled with overdrawing cartoonists that use a million lines to capture a gesture. These artists make up the glut of comic shelves these days, particularly super-hero books. Latour is a beautiful exception. With a few meaningful lines he deftly communicates character, expression, gesture and motion. He does with one or two strokes what most super-hero cartoonists don’t accomplish in an entire book. His line work is visceral, stylized and confident. And his "painting" of the work blows my mind: subtle, ragged and brutal, always married to the art and text in a seamless and unique way. Clearly, Latour is having a ball illustrating this book. His work in Southern Bastards is better than 95% of the work being done in mainstream comics, and I can't wait to see what he (and Aaron) comes up with next.
This is an unbelievably engrossing story that doesn't let up. It may seem like a walking talkk story but becomes so much more, and that is the charm of this book. One of my favorite series on the stands, one which I plan to collect for months to come. Don't think twice, but this series.