• Southern Bastards #18

    Southern Bastards #18
    Released by: Image Comics
    Released on: September 27th, 2017.
    Writer: Jason Latour
    Artist: Chris Brunner
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    “No one in Craw County talks about Coach Boss killing Earl Tubb. But by the time she’s done with him, Roberta’s betting Materhead will.”

    We flashback to Roberta’s childhood, to a scene where Earl knocked a man flat on his ass for insulting his family. Roberta’s mother, Vernetta, is not happy about this display of violence despite the intention behind it, while Roberta tries to figure out if Earl has actually killed this guy or not.

    Cut to the present. It’s night time on the outskirts of town just over the border in Wetumpka County. That old mangy dog is wandering around while a person in a hoodie takes a bound, gagged and blindfolded man wearing a Rebs shirt out of the back of his truck, marching him into a hotel room. The clerk, inside watching the news, sees the insignia on the shirt and decides not to report this.

    “Whup’em Warriors.”

    Inside the hotel room the hoodie comes off. It’s Roberta, and she rips the duct tape off of the mouth of her captive, Eugene ‘Materhead’ Maples who starts screaming, thinking he’s been kidnapped by Al Qaeda. She shuts him up with the butt of her rifle. She roughs him up and makes it clear that she’s here for one thing – the truth – and that she’s not leaving without it. And he’s not leaving unless she gets it. She wants to know who killed Earl Tubb. After she beats the shit out of him, he starts talking. Talking about how maybe he deserves to be punished but how Earl asked for it, sticking his nose in where it doesn’t belong… but he isn’t giving her any names.

    We flash back again, this time to Roberta as a teenager. Earl knows she’s holed up in that room, and not with a boy, but with a girl named Denise. She’s confused, trying to figure things out for herself – and Earl’s alpha male bullshit isn’t helping her.

    But back in that motel room? Roberta’s not giving up easily…

    This fourth chapter of the ‘Gut Check’ storyline is, in a word, intense. Roberta is pissed. She knows who killed her father but wants confirmation and it doesn’t matter what she has to do to get it – she’s going to get it. She’s clearly from Earl’s stock, from Bert Tubb’s stock before him. That mean streak is in there, that penchant for going off half-cocked, acting before thinking. But so too is there that mentality that needs to see that the right thing is done, that justice is served. Jason Latour's script for this issue is intense, it’s suspenseful and it hits like a brick. We feel for Roberta, we’re on her side, but at the same time we can recognize she’s doing things in a less than orthodox manner. But when the whole town was against her dad, does she really have a shot at getting justice for him without breaking a few rules and/or heads? Nope. So we get it. We sympathize with her, while recognizing that what she’s doing is wrong. It’s good writing. And the art is there every step of the way. Chris Brunner (filling in for Jason Latour) has his own style to be sure, but it’s similar to the look that Latour has created for the book and as such, it fits in nicely. There’s good detail here and a nice, thick, dark atmosphere that serves the story really well.

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