If there's one thing you can count on Jason Aaron for, it's getting inside a character's head, and seeing what makes them tick. Many of the best parts from Aaron's previous series Scalped come from the character focused issues, where we saw how they operate, why they do what they do, and no one quite does it like Aaron can.
Everyone loves the underdog, though Coach Boss wouldn't be the first person you'd of as an underdog. Such movies like Rudy, The Fighter, and Warrior express the power and appeal of the underdog story, as we often see ourselves in them, since we are all underdogs at one point or another. But Aaron decides to take a much darker approach with this trope, and offers a much more sinister take on the concept of the underdog. Certainly, we're not meant to admire Coach Boss in his journey to find acceptance for himself, but we are meant to understand where he's coming from and why he is the way he is.
Aaron does love his sympathetic villains, and he does sympathetic villains very well. It's kind of surprising how often people forget that villains can be just as human as the rest of us, I fear it is this forgetfulness that caused people to dislike The Last of Us, Part II so much, as many people tend to forget that the people who harm us are also human, flawed and conflicted as the rest of us, and it is this that Aaron gets so well and what makes this arc so good and intriguing. The arc, much like the last one, is well paced and written for the most part. While it may go into southern machismo from time to time, it certainly doesn't revel in it like some other works that I've read. The focus is on the story, and Jason Aaron seeks to tell it well.
It's quite nice to see such coherent, well thought-out storytelling in Southern Bastards, considering that I often complain about pacing in comics and even found issues with the pacing in Scalped, where Aaron often wildly cut from one period of time to another. His use of flashbacks even seem reasonable and well utilized throughout the pace of this story, showcasing the backstory of the rather tragic Coach Boss and showcases a more human side to him, while also not allowing us to escape the fact that he is the villain of the story, even if he doesn't see it that way. We sympathize with his plight, and respect him because despite the adversity that he constantly goes through, he keeps getting back up. But we can't forget who he is and what he's capable of.
The strongest aspect of this arc is, much like the first one, the story of Euless Boss and how he was twisted into becoming the monstrous dictator of Craw County. The most alarming thing about his story is how relatable and understandable it is. I felt his passion and intense love for the sport that gives him his sense of purpose, and yet I couldn't shake the uncomfortable feeling that I got when I saw him becoming what he always wanted to be. Some other strong moments in the story arc included: Boss's friendship and almost father-son relationship with Ol' Big, and the tragic end to that partnership; Coach Boss going to Earl Tubb's funeral and showing kindness to Earl's uncle, despite the fact that he brutally murdered his nephew recently; and like the last arc, I enjoyed the football bits, considering my fandom for the sport.
Latour's art, as usual, brings a bouncy yet grounded charm to the series when he's drawing it. His monochromatic style, complemented by the gorgeous colors, really gives the series its sense of character and place. I do still have some issues with it, like his thing with eyes where he draws them as really beady...or even seemingly nonexistent. But I think that he captures the ugliness and grit of the people well throughout this series, and he's often good with facial expressions as well, particularly when it comes to anger and bitterness.
It's kind of amusing how good a comic about angry, unpleasant men doing angry, unpleasant things can be. Yet somehow the two Jasons continue to pull it off, as this second trade comes into full swing.
Jason Aaron's Southern Bastards, Volume 2: Gridiron can be found at your Local Comic Shop, Amazon, or Comixology.
Britton Summers spent much of his childhood collecting action figures and toys, and through that hobby discovered a love for comic books that's continued to this day. His love of storytelling led him to want to become a writer, so he is currently in college pursuing a degree in Journalism and Broadcasting. Britton lives in Oklahoma with his parents, dog Alexis, and cat Jerry.