Peril In Panels Volume X: SOUTHERN BASTARDS
Let’s heat things up!
Peril In Panels returns in a blaze of glory, with your favourite mouthy jerk of a reviewer, Jonathan Kruschack. This time around we’re talking about SOUTHERN BASTARDS by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour. Volume one, “HERE WAS A MAN”, is a book I’d heard nothing but good things about for quite some time. So when I’d come into some spare cash I went to the bookstore and WHAM, there it was. Snatched it up as quick as I could and gave it a solid read. Here’s what I thought of it.
Basic Plot Overview (no spoilers)
Earl Tubb is a man who hates Craw County, Alabama, his former hometown. He hates it, hates the people in it, hates his dead father, etcetera, etcetera. But he’s told that his uncle is now unable to live in Earl’s deceased father’s home anymore and must go back to pack things up and sell the house. So, he hits the road and returns home for the first time in decades. And things have changed. Mainly, there’s a tree growing out of his father’s grave, the entire town answers to a man named Euless Boss, the local football coach and that even the police are under his control. Now, Earl, a big, striking figure of a man, doesn’t give a damn about any of this, until an old acquaintance of his is beaten to death by the football team. Things take a turn as Earl seems dragged back into Craw County’s seedy underbelly trying to find answers. And it only gets worse from there.
Jason Aaron is a fantastic writer, who I compare (slightly) to Rick Remender, another writer with some damn good dialogue and story-writing chops. The guy knows how characters should speak and act, how to hook somebody with a story and keep them coming for more. nobody in this book is a stereotype, they’re just southern. They act like real people. Earl Tubb is not a good man, he’s okay at best. He has his faults and knows it. Hell, near the end of “HERE WAS A MAN” he admits to letting somebody get beat up as a kid because hey, why even care? SOUTHERN BASTARDS is a carefully crafted tale, an honest portrayal of people, who despite being totally fictional (if anything, slightly based on real people) act realistically. They can be dirty or decent. People have flaws. And there’s a reveal at the end that is fantastic, never saw it coming. Pay attention to the phone messages Earl leaves to an unnamed person throughout the story. It’ll hook you for sure.
Jason Latour’s art is incredible. His colour pallets are vivid and appropriate, his line art is dirty and sketchy while still clean enough to show his refined details, backgrounds, fight scenes and so forth. HE even has some Graphic Design skills, designing logos and fictitious products for the series. It’s great. Get the TPB and you’ll get a little sneak at his process. And a recipe for fried apple pies, which is a nice bonus but I’m getting off track. His character designs are incredible. I especially love the design of Esaw Goings, an antagonist who looks like is Jay Briscoe’s blond, even more redneck cousin (see the pick of the guy with the neck tattoo up there? Yeah, that’s him. Awesome, right?). Hilarious and intimidating at the same time, again like a real person. Just because you’re scary doesn’t mean you have any fashion sense. Latour makes it all happen, bringing Aaron’s words to life.
I’m not giving out any spoilers for this series, it’s too new and too good. Do yourself a favour if you like crime mysteries and pick it up. Very much worth your time.