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Southern Bastards #11

    Ian Jane

  • Southern Bastards #11

    Southern Bastards #11
    Released by: Image Comics
    Released on: October 7th, 2015
    Writer: Jason Aaron
    Artist: Jason Latour
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    After Esaw took the Bible thumper out into the woods, things got ugly. That happened last issue. Get caught up or get left behind. Now? It's homecoming week and The Rebels are set for the big game against their chief rival and everyone in town is rarin' to go. That is, except for one man, a bearded stranger who carries a cross and hunts out in the woods to survive. He doesn't care about football any more than he cares about returning to civilization. Why bother? He's got food here, water, and he's handy with a bow and arrow. He gets by and seems plenty cozy in the shack he's got on the lakeside, the one his grandfather built. His internal narration tells us all about how The Boone family's got roots here, how they've always been country and not needed to bother with the types of things the townsfolk preoccupy themselves with.

    Cut to a small church. Inside there's a preacher delivering a fire and brimstone sermon to a small but fervent congregation eager to hear the Lord's word. They start speaking in tongues and then the snake comes out. When little Tommy gets bitten, Boone stops anyone from calling for help because 'he's in the Lord's hands now.' When the boy gets up and seems kinda-sorta okay, they take it as a sign of his being filled with the Holy Spirit and celebrate by passing out more snakes. It's a test of faith.

    After the service the congregation head outside for a picnic. Before they eat, the preacher says the blessing and he prays for Boone's wife to be cured of her rheumatism. They also pray for the Parnell family. It seems their 'simple minded daughter' was attacked. Boone knows she was twenty-three but also knows she had the 'mind of a four year old.' The family deserves justice. It's clear she was raped but she couldn't say who did it to her. Boone knows who did it and he knows what to do with it. He grabs a bow and a few arrows and heads out into the woods towards town looking for a man named Dale Arley.

    Even if man did have to make a deal with the serpent to protect the things he loved, there will come a time when a serpent will eventually do what a serpent does. And so too will there come a time when man needs to fight back.

    This series is dark on a pretty consistent basis. Sure, there are moments of humor scattered throughout the run so far but for the most part, Jason Aaron's writing keeps it grim and gritty but this issue? It takes us into some of the series' darkest territory yet. Mixing religion and violence can and often does make folks uncomfortable (which is ironic, if you watch the news these days) but let's face it - there are those out there, plenty of them, who often feel empowered to do dangerous and deadly things in the name of whatever god they may serve. The fact that someone like this might exist in the backwoods of the deep south isn't such a stretch, in fact, it's part of the culture of that area of the country. Aaron tapes into that vein in this issue in a big way with some pretty eerie results. This issue isn't scary so much for what happens (though what happens is bleak) but for the mindsight of the man behind it all and why it happens the way it does. This is all very possible, very real. Things might be exaggerated here and there for dramatic effect but everything that happens here can and does happen in America. That's a fucked up fact that a lot of people might rather not face up to but hey, it's true. Who says comics can't deal with social issues? Hats off to Aaron for taking the story in this direction.

    And of course, his stellar writing is complimented at every step of the way by Jason Latour's illustrations. While most of what has come before has taken place in and around the town, this time we head into those backwoods outside of town. This takes the emphasis off of the heavy reds that have dominated a lot of the earlier issues and lets him play around with a lot more earth tones and darker colors. It works well. The line art style hasn't changed here, nor does it need to because it's perfect the way it is, so fans will appreciate the familiarity as well as the style and detail, but the coloring choices make it clear that we're in different territory this time around. It's a subtle but effective tactic but it works.

    So where does this leave us? Well, not surprisingly after what happens in this issue it all ends on a pretty solid cliffhanger. Not a gimmicky cliffhanger, no, just more of a very dramatic stopping point, the kind that leaves you salivating for more but thankful for what you've been given - the only downside here is that when the quality of the writing, the artwork and the storytelling in general is so damn good, the wait between issues seems like an eternity. But it's not an eternity, and you don't want to rush things and sacrifice quality in doing so. Great stuff. Everyone should be reading this series.

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