Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Jason Latour
Letters by Jared K. Fletcher
“Daddy. There’s a tree growin’ outta your grave. I reckon… I been gone a long time.”
They say you can never go home again. In the context of Southern Bastards this quote has two meanings. It’s been about a year and a half since Jason Aaron’s long-running magnum opus Scalped closed its doors. Will he be able to recapture the magic of a gritty crime drama with a black sense of humor? As for the main character, Earl Tubbs, returning to his home town no longer feels like home. Things have changed, but if you ask the locals the only thing that’s changed is Earl itself.
Southern Bastards is built on the premise the Southerners aren’t too kindly to strangers. There is a sense of segregation between the locals and anyone considered an outsider. When the book is focusing on the scene of setting a small American town, it shines. The book is both a love letter and a hate letter to the towns where Aaron and Latour grew up. Latour really is the star of the show this time, His character designs are exaggerated but not distracting, realistic enough to be believable but strange enough to be stylized. It works wonderfully with the blue collar approach that Aaron uses for his script.
To put it simply, the book is crass. Aaron has never been shy that he’s as much influenced by Alan Moore and Grant Morrison as he is by Garth Ennis. Southern Bastards is Aaron wearing his Ennis influence on his sleeve, and waving it proudly. Since humor is so subjective, I couldn’t tell you whether or not it’s funny. I can already tell that many people who are a fan of Scalped will be put off by the dog taking a shit on the first page. I do however think that most people who read Scalped will find something wonderful in these here pages. I found myself already caring about Earl Tubbs and his future adventures, and I’m an emotionless robot with a heart of coal. As always, Aaron’s character work is brilliantly executed with each character having a distinct voice.
I’m really hoping for big things from this series. This issue has its problems, because first issues are rarely a good judge of how the series will ultimately play out. That being said, the seeds are there for this to be a great story and I’m going to stick around until the bitter end.