This arc reminds me of a conversation that my friend Tim and I had a few months ago, where we were talking about one of our mutual favorite comics Deadly Class. He said that the new arc that was coming out felt like a climax to the series. I have to say that I feel the same way about this volume of Southern Bastards: it does feels like a climax.
Everything seems to come together in this volume. We take a break from the one-offs in the previous arc and go back to the main story. My biggest praise of this volume has to be that the climax of this arc feels earned, which is quite rare to see in long-running comics nowadays. The two Jasons take their time to build the major conflict between Coach Boss and all of his many enemies, and they manage to pay it off beautifully towards the end. It goes back to what I've said before about Aaron's big strength: he has a great sense of set-up and pay-off.
The climactic fight between Coach Boss, Roberta Tubb, and the rest of Coach Boss' enemies has a sense of culmination to it, even though we're not quite at the end of the series just yet. The fight is just as dramatic, intense, and somewhat ridiculous as this series has been shown to be. It's true to the series' character as we've come to experience it and one can tell that the two Jasons had a blast when creating this part of the story. It gets me excited to see how this story is going to wrap up eventually, whenever we get there.
The Jasons have always been clear about how the series is both a love letter and indignant rant against the Deep South and all of the contradictions that come from being in the South. We see southerners at their best and worst, showing the mixture of hatred and camaraderie. Also, the love of football continues to bleed into this series, with one of the series' strongest moments being found during a scene that is depicting the sport at hand. I can't wait to see more of it!
Despite my praises, there are still a few weaknesses that are found in the series. Chris Brunner's artwork continues to be unpleasant to look at. I still get the idea that he's drawing the Looney Tunes versions of these characters. I understand that the series is meant to be satirical in some ways, but I find that Brunner's art takes away from the genuine suspense and tension that's been building in this series. Latour's art on the other hand continues to impress. Another issue that I noticed is a part towards the end where a main character gives a gigantic speech about their motivations, which comes off as clunky and unwarranted. But aside from that, there's nothing but love for this series from me.
Some highlights from this trade includes Coach Boss' conflict with this other crime boss, who looks like a mixture between Burt Reynolds and a younger Stan Lee in the '70s (seriously, look it up they look almost exactly alike), and the eventual climax of their battle, the Coach's 'motivational speech' to the players and showcasing that, despite some of his more honorable traits, Coach Boss is truly the Devil of Craw County, as well as the point where Coach Boss is pushed to his absolute limits in his climactic fight with Boone and Roberta Tubb and imagines his old training sessions with his friend and father figure Big, where he made him hit a tree over and over again.
As mentioned before, it's not often that a series can build itself to a satisfying conclusion, much less a satisfying climactic battle. To see a series that's been going on as long as Southern Bastards has is truly awe inspiring. Comic book writers should take note when reading this series about how to tell a long form story in comics, because the two Jasons know what's going on when it comes to comic book storytelling.
*sigh* But now I have to wait like everyone else to see this series come back and see what they do next. Though with all of the bullshit with Jason Latour, and Jason Aaron's busy schedule at Marvel, it may come a lot later than we all expect.
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.