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‘Southern Bastards #2’ – Chicken-Fried Sonuvabitch

‘Southern Bastards #2’ – Chicken-Fried Sonuvabitch

Southern Bastards #2SouthernBastards_02


Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Jason Latour
Published by Image Comics             

At its core, Southern Bastards is a series that is about the difficult relationship each person has with the place that they grew up. You can leave it behind, you can hate it, you can curse it as much as you want, but a part of you is always going to be stuck there. For Earl Tubb, he’s stuck there, and try as he might, he keeps digging himself into a situation that he knows he ought to run away from as fast as he can.

Earl has finished packing up his father’s house, but he decides to stick around and take part in the thing that everybody in Craw County can seem to agree on: football. Even there, he can’t seem to get away from the violence that he finds so repugnant about the county. At the center of that violence, fittingly, is the football coach, known as Coach Boss. No county officials will listen to Earl, and he’s chiding himself to do the right thing and get the hell out of dodge. But he just can’t bring himself to walk away when he knows that something is rotten in the county. By the end of the comic, he’s holding a makeshift club, and we are wondering just what he plans to do with it.

The image of Earl trying and failing to cut down the tree over his father’s grave is too poetic. We can’t uproot ourselves from the places that we’re attached to any more than we can turn back time, and Earl is discovering that as he spends time in Craw County. Yet Earl is also bound by a sort of love of the place that he’s from. Going to the football game is in every possible sense a bad idea, yet he does so anyway, whether because he loves the game or in some sense wants to see the townspeople.

Hand-in-hand with the complicated relationship with home is Earl’s relationship with his father. When Earl is screaming at his father’s grave, there are layers of hatred, recrimination, inadequacy and regret all coming out. He’s mad because his father loved the county, he’s mad because his father’s image and reputation seem to have dwarfed him, and he’s mad for things that we can’t even guess at yet. He doesn’t want to be his father, but at the end of the comic, he’s got a club and looks ready to do it. Not coincidentally, his father was famous for using one as well.

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The Walking Tall vibes in this comic are cool (the 1973 version, not that crap with Dwayne Johnson). If the last scene doesn’t make you think of Buford Pusser, then you may be beyond all assistance. While it promises a goodly amount of Southern-Fried violence, this comic is still willing to deal with the complicated relationship we all have for our hometowns. It’s a surprisingly emotional comic for one predicated on a bunch of rednecks knocking the piss out of each other. Issue #3 can’t come soon enough.

[wpchatai]