Review: Southern Bastards #5
So here we are, back in Craw County after a brief hiatus. We come back to a little bit of a breather. A little bit of place setting. And that’s okay, because we learn a lot this episode too.
One of the big questions about the first arc was who exactly is Coach Boss? Earl said they played football together, but past that we knew nothing. How did he become so powerful? How did he become comfortable enough to kill a man in the street, in front of plenty of witnesses, and think he could get away with it? (He even went to the funeral and gave the sheriff the business!) While we don’t learn that, we do learn a lot about the man himself.
Coach Boss is ordinary, except for one defining trait: he doesn’t give up. In flashbacks he’s told that he’s terrible at football, and that he should quit. His family is insulted, and he’s told he should quit. He’s sexually assaulted, and he’s told he should quit. But he gets right back up and makes for the tackling block, like nothing even happened. So we learn that he’s an average player with an unhappy childhood, which is not a unique history, but he’s also the most stubborn man in Craw County. He makes it work. And he wants people to remember it, which is why he tempts fate and puts Earl’s stick (the weapon Boss used in the murder) right up on the wall of his barbeque joint. Fair enough.
Through a few wordless panels we also learn a lot about present day Coach Boss. His home is modest; he’s the only one sleeping in his bed; the empty half of his closet, and the one high heel on the floor that he hasn’t picked up, imply that he used to be married or be in some kind of relationship, which in turn implies a gloomy former life. These panels are drawn in pale, muted colors, which make the scene stand out from the red, heat soaked panels of the flashbacks. It gives the scenes of his home life a sterile feel; it makes him seem lonely.
The rest of the book is given to the funeral, which is okay, as well as the introduction of presumably major players who will soon be introduced/play a large role, which is much more interesting. We get a reference to a hunter who lives in the woods, twin young women who own the bank, maybe a reference to the Dixie mafia, a sick mayor and his wife (who most likely wields the power), as well as a panel solely focused on the sheriff, who was introduced in the last arc. Earl’s daughter is finally given a name (Berta), and I hope she comes to town really soon. She ought to bring Hell with her.
All of these pieces of story are pulled together by the once again incredible artwork. I already mentioned the coloring choices, but this issue proved again that Jason Latour is just as deft with quiet scenes as he is with violence. The scenes at the funeral lose none of their grit just because there’s a lot of talking.
Now that we know a little bit more about Coach Boss, and the table has been set, I’m really excited for what will hopefully be a big next issue. Bring the pain, Berta!
Story: Jason Aaron Art; Jason Latour
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.