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Southern Bastards Volume 3: Homecoming

    Ian Jane

  • Southern Bastards Volume 3: Homecoming

    Southern Bastards Volume 3: Homecoming
    Released by: Image Comics
    Released on: July 13th, 2016.
    Written by: Jason Aaron
    Illustrated by: Jason Latour, Chris Brunner
    Purchase From Amazon

    Volume Three of Southern Bastards, which collections issues ten through fourteen, goes back to the events that take place AFTER Earl Tubbs' death and Big is feeling terrible about it. But we know what happened to him…. to Big. Coach Boss is getting ready for the big game, but he knows his mentor was murdered, or so he tells the sheriff. Flashbacks show us what happened to the sheriff, his connection to Boss, his life after high school and more.

    So yeah, #10 picks up there. Homecoming week - The Rebs are set to square off against their rivals. Coach Big is dead. The Sheriff is hitting the bottle and Coach Boss is just about as pissed off as he can be. But first we've got to see what happened to Donny Ray, who felt the need to share the word of the Lord with the local whores. He did so one day when Esaw was doing his thing at the establishment and who winds up going on a bank run with the guy. Gotta get new pads for the team. Then he brings the poor shit to meet Boss, who doesn't want anything to do with him. He does, however, need a new defensive plan with Big out of the picture and so he gives Esaw a shot at it.

    Esaw sets out to create a defensive plan that will allow him to 'unleash Hell' but it turns out there's more books involved than he thought. Soon enough, we learn the real reason that Esaw brought 'Bible Boy' out along with him. This won't end well.

    Esaw's got issues.

    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.

    It's game day. The Craw County Runnin' Rebs are ready, willing and able to square off against the Wetumpka County Warriors and, well, Couch Big just killed himself. That isn't stopping Boss from telling his players to 'bleed if you got to.' After all, he's not asking anything of them that wasn't asked of himself years ago. The match gets dirty, the match gets rough and Wetumpka gets the lead.

    Then Boss gets his boys in a huddle.

    Cut to Big's funeral. He's laying there in his coffin, looking just as dead as dead can be, while Boss stares down at him trying to figure out why he offed himself. He figures Big just didn't want to wind up a useless old man in a nursing home. He tries to convince himself of that but he knows the truth. Boss isn't stupid. After the funeral but before the game we see how Boss was pressured by the mayor, or more specifically the mayor's wife, and they want to know how he plans on winning without Big around to do his thing. They don't have faith in Boss, that much is clear, and people are talking. Boss is told in no uncertain terms that he cannot lose this game.

    Back on the field, it's half time. Boss talks to his team in the locker room about the importance of this game, how this will shape them in the future, how this will make them men. It's a good speech, an inspiring speech, he wants them to get out there and win it not for him but for those who live for this type of thing and more importantly, for Big. The boys head out to the field and Boss talks to Wetumpka's coach. He's gloating, no shock there, but there's still half a game to play. But the second half doesn't go better, it just gets worse.

    That night, the big running back for Wetumpka, the one who basically won the game for them, is hanging out at the local BBQ joint when, out in the parking lot, he gets a visit from Boss himself. Clearly full of whiskey, the old man decides to prove a point.

    Earl Tubb is dead, but not forgotten.

    From there, we learn about a woman who went to Afghanistan to serve her country, to implement community development programs with the local Afghani women. A noble idea to be sure, given how violent the area was and how the locals didn't trust their government at all. This woman's name is Roberta and she's back on American soil, walking up to a house watched over pretty protectively by an unfamiliar looking dog. The same dog that appears to have been shitting all over the porch and yard

    She walks into the house Earl lived in after he and her mother split up, but shortly after she does that the cops show up. A suspicious person was reported in the area - her. She's got dark skin, everyone in the neighborhood is suspicious of her for that reason. We flash back to Roberta talking to Earl about the job she's going to do overseas. He's not happy about it, after all, he served in 'Nam and knows how it can go. in the present time, she hangs up on her mom who warns her not to go snooping around her dad's stuff, he was never there for her.

    Roberta heads outside and meets the owner of the dog. He doesn't want her moving into this neighborhood and tells her as much. When the man's kid has the nerve to smile at Roberta, his hide gets tanned. When she decides to mow the lawn, she notices the shed has been broken into - and that racist piece of shit next door, he's got a nice looking lawnmower over there. The guy and his cousin threaten here - that doesn't end well for them. She takes them down pretty quick and then makes short work of his woman, who comes at Roberta with a knife. And then kid? He drops the 'n word' at her.

    Roberta leaves, but not without a memento - her daddy's assault rifle. And then she calls her mom back.

    This is clearly setting up the next storyline, which is clearly going to play off of the first storyline, not that the last one didn't. Does that make sense? What matters here is that we now know who Earl was talking to on the phone in the early issues of the series - his daughter Roberta. We don't know anything about her mother yet, aside from the fact that she was none too keen on Earl, but it would seem that the apple hasn't fallen too far from the tree. Roberta is her daddy's girl in more ways than one, and now that she's back in Alabama, there are some loose ends that need to be tied up. And not just the issue of the lawnmower. Aaron's script does a fine job of formally introducing us to this new character who quite obviously will play a large role in things to come, giving us some interesting background details on her and showing, in no uncertain terms, how she deals with thing. They 'why' is yet to come but we'll get there. Big things are afoot.

    Latour's artwork? No one else should ever draw this series although - credit where credit is due - Chris Brunner does a great job filling in for issue twelve. Brunner's more cartoony style works just fine in those pages, but this is Latour's book and his style really has become instantly identifiable with the series as a whole. Seeing Earl again was pretty cool, and even if this book is only a couple of years old there was a welcome familiarity to seeing that cranky old man's face pop up in this issue courtesy of Latour's style. It just works. It jives beautifully with Aaron's writing and together these guys just nail it - the atmosphere, the tension, the underlying social problems of the location where it plays out, and the nastiness that is inherent in a certain segment of its populace.

    In addition to collecting the five issues that make up this run, we also get a cover gallery (collecting the regular and variant covers), an essay on the use of the Confederate Flag from Jason Latour and a sketchbook section containing pieces from both Latour and Brunner with contributions from Tonci Zonjic and Daniel Warren Johnson. This is another very fine collection for an equally excellent series.

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