Why the hell did it take me so long to get back the great Image Comics crime series Southern Bastards? I really liked the story, I like Jason Aaron’s writing, how Jason Latour’s artwork looks for this series, and it really grabbed me over the course of the first two volumes.
Well, whatever the reason, I finally got around to the third volume, subtitled Homecoming.
Volume One of Southern Bastards introduced the series through the eyes of the character Earl Tubb, an older man returning to the small Alabama town he grew up in who tries to take the town back from the hands of the crime boss who runs the place. Said crime boss is also the head coach for the local high school football team, Euless Boss. That volume ended with Boss murdering Tubb in the street.
Volume Two covered Boss’ backstory, making him out to be more than a simple villain. Boss rose from a very poor and abusive childhood to take control of the town. That doesn’t exactly excuse his evil actions so much as show him to be more complex than otherwise assumed. He’s a man with a chip on his shoulder that won’t let anyone knock it off even accidentally. He still has something to prove.
Volume Three is a series of one-issue short stories giving readers a deeper look into the various characters in and around Craw County about the time of the annual Homecoming game. Boss has been using the football team, both its former and current players, as muscle in and around Craw County for so long that he was bound to have made more than his fair share of enemies, and many of the characters featured here could be a key to bringing him down. There’s the broken sheriff, a weird kid knocked into a coma by Boss’s players who has some kind of connection to the various mangy dogs running around the county, a snake-handling bow hunter with a grudge for some reason, the mayor’s wife who seems like a very unpleasant person under normal circumstances, and finally former player/current coach redneck asshole Esaw, and the last one would only be likely to bring Boss down by accident since he’s nominally on Boss’s side while being pretty dumb and violent under normal circumstances.
And then there’s Earl Tubb”s daughter Roberta. She’s coming to find out what happened to her daddy, and she appears to have just come back from a tour of duty with the Marine Corps in Afghanistan. That young lady can take care of herself.
Aaron only advanced the plot a little here, showing how Earl Tubb’s death affected Boss’s standing in town, and just how potentially fragile it might be. Regardless of what happens, Euless Boss won’t go down without a fight, and the miserable son of a bitch probably has whatever’s headed his way coming. I hope I get to the fourth volume a bit faster than I did this one. This story is bigger than it might have at first appeared to be, and that just makes me happier. 9 out of 10 cartoon roosters.