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Southern Bastards #10: Taking Bible-Thumping to New Levels!

Written by Nikki S. on Saturday, August 01 2015 and posted in Reviews

Southern Bastards #10: Taking Bible-Thumping to New Levels!

Each issue of Southern Bastards elevates the heat. Is the book good enough to roast a rack of ribs on?


Source: Image Comics

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Jason Latour

Letters: Jared K. Fletcher

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I wasn't ready for Southern Bastards #10, but then again, I never am ready for this series. If you've been following this series from the get-go, you know that every issue is one gut-punch flavored malt liquor away from sending your brain to the darkest corner of the South, leaving you crawling for some tiny shred of light. We've seen Coach Boss, the troubled and troubling town mastermind, both at his worst and with a glimmer of decency not usually afforded to the villainous types. Jason Aaron and Jason Latour have created a world where the very worst person is somehow still semi-redeemable through a mitigating back story. But here, we just might have our first bad-to-the-bone, no-saving-grace character in the star of this issue, Esaw.

This installment follows Coach Boss' henchman around town as he pillages and plunders everything in his way. We start off with one of the eeriest sex scenes I've seen depicted of late (and this was during a week in which Sex Criminals came out), and things pretty much get more dreadful from there. When religious man Donny Ray comes to save Esaw's soul (though I'm pretty sure you have to have a soul to be saved), Esaw makes sure that Donny works for the good word. As Coach Boss grieves (in his own perverted way) the loss of right hand man, Coach Big, Esaw is tasked to make an illegal deal with weapon suppliers and come up with defensive plays for the upcoming game against Craw County's big rivals. Things go bad. As they usually do.

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While some might find that this issue's connecting character was anything but connectable, I think what Aaron and Latour do here makes for one of their stronger issues to date. It might be difficult to surpass issue #9, but I've no doubt that this issue keeps the story going and offers an insightful look into yet another background character in a satisfactory way. Aaron has crafted a story where not everyone is who they seem, and this issue is a bit of a relief from that narrative. Esaw is pretty much exactly who he seems to be; he's out of his mind, with uncontrollable rage. By presenting him as such, Aaron makes a statement that some people are not just skin deep bad, but maybe actually really, really morally unjust. 

That lack of contradiction is further portrayed by Latour's incredible artwork. The tattoos Esaw sports are nothing short of terrifying in what they suggest. But by the faraway and crazed look in Esaw's eyes, Latour captures the lack of depth to his character in a painfully obvious way. Esaw is twisted in a way that can't be saved, from his exterior to the window into his personality as depicted through facial expressions and body language. As Esaw's shirt so succinctly suggests "Shit happens", and Esaw is not afraid to be the cause.

Southern Bastards #10 is yet another insightful look into the operations of the southernest town you can imagine. Aaron continues to deliver strong dialogue and a truly emotional story, while Latour packages the series in a well-crafted and gorgeous manner. Southern Bastards feels real...Southern Bastards feels terrifying. 

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