Archive for Southern Bastards

Worth the Blood


Southern Bastards #8

We get the final story in the origin story of Coach Boss, where he works out a scheme to rise from being a lowly ball boy to become the coach of the local football team — and he only has to brutally step on a few people on his way to the top. But will he end up with any true allies on his side? Or just flunkies looking for a way to ride his rotten coattails?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Still the best bowl of burnt-to-hell Southern noir you’re going to find anywhere. The last few issues have gotten us to feeling a lot of sympathy for Euless Boss, but this issue definitely fixed that problem. Coach Boss is the villain again, and trouble is blowing up over the horizon.


Rat God #3

Clark Elwood finally starts to turn into something other than a complete schmuck. He fends off the advances of the dimwitted, quasi-attractive, mostly-freakish Gharlena, then follows her and the other residents of Lame Dog out to the cemetery, where he finds petrified skeletons and a procession of cultists. The cultists start throwing people into a hole in the graveyard, where they’re eaten by a monstrous rat-like being. Clark tries to stop them when they start to throw his beloved Kito in, but only ends up in the pit with a couple of the other cultists. Can he survive the trip to hell? Will he learn anything unexpected? And where (and when) will he emerge?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful Richard Corben artwork, and it’s really nice to see Clark act like someone with a little emotional maturity. But there are still ominous hints that he’s still in way more trouble than he can handle.

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Behind the Mask


Shutter #9

Kate Kristopher has met way too many siblings lately, and her newest one, Kalliyan, wants her to activate a mystic gate to a strange alternate world called Prospero. Only Kate — or her younger brother, Chris — can open the gate, and Kalliyan plans to take an armed expedition across to get what she wants from them. Kate has some other ideas, though, which Kalliyan may not like very much.

Verdict: Thumbs up, but I got a lot more enjoyment out of the prequel with the Prospero Society in 1889 Paris. It had all the weirdness and menace that the current storyline is presently lacking.


Ghosted #17

Jackson Winters and his team of ghost hunters use a “white room” to travel to the scene of the German wedding massacre from last issue. But they find Markus Schrecken and the Maestro waiting for them, along with a captive Edzia Rusnak and a bunch of angry ghosts. He wants to force Jackson to steal death itself for him — and some more betrayals from his own team puts Jackson in deep trouble on this one.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Also not as good as some previous issues have been, but you gotta give this one some points for the backstabbing and scheming going on here — it’s just a perfect synthesis of heist-caper shenanigans.


Southern Bastards #7

We continue with the backstory of Euless Boss, current crime boss and coach of the Runnin’ Rebs, back when he was just a lowly high school student desperate to play for the team. Last issue, a lowlife shot Euless in the foot, keeping him from finally getting to play for the Rebs. He slowly recovers, throws his thuggish father out of his life, and makes it back onto the field, where he’s a superstar player, getting all the big hits and never quitting, even when his leg’s broken on the field. But he’s still not getting any offers from any college teams — his only way out of the hell of Craw County, Alabama. Is Euless going to be stuck here forever?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I can barely believe it, but this storyarc is actually making me root for the loathsome Coach Boss. He just can’t seem to catch a break — and I think I’m looking forward to seeing how he’s going to get back at everyone who’s been holding him down.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Here’s a decent sale on a bunch of digital D&D books, from the boxed set all the way to the new fifth edition. Y’all go get your gaming on.
  • Y’all need some keen patriotic slogans? North Korea has got you covered.
  • Really interesting story about some small African villages that are using their mosquito nets for fishing, which puts a crimp on the fight against malaria and may also be harming fishing.

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Holiday Gift Bag: New (and Cheap!) Trade Paperbacks

We’re getting mighty close to Christmas, but there’s still time for some more gift recommendations for the comic book lover in your life.

Today, we’re going to talk about three different comics that I’ve already reviewed multiple times (click on the links at the bottom of this post if you want to see my more in-depth reviews of each issue) — but they’re now out in trade paperbacks, there’s a decent chance they’ll still be available in your local comics shop for you last-minute shoppers, and they’ll make great gifts for any comics fan who hasn’t yet gotten to enjoy the series.

First, there’s Moon Knight: From the Dead, by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey.


Ellis and Shalvey’s much-too-short run on the series produced one of the best superhero comics of the past year, as Marc Spector takes on military cyborgs, snipers, killer psychotrobic mushrooms, punk rock ghosts, and more, all wearing amazing all-white costumes — standard superhero costumes, suits and ties, magical bone armor.

The art and storytelling here are simply amazing. You get six done-in-one stories, beautifully illustrated, gloriously colored, fantastically action-packed. Almost every issue Ellis and Shalvey produced could be nominated for awards — and should be — and if you know a comics fan who loves innovative storytelling and spectacular art, you can get this at your local shop for about $18.

Next, we get Southern Bastards: Here Was a Man, by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour.


This is a grimy, deep-fried Southern noir starring an old man named Ernest Tubb who’s returned to Craw County, Alabama for the first time in decades. He gets pulled into the dirty political machinations of the town, thanks to a bunch of redneck thugs picking on innocent people, and because of Coach Boss, the coach of the local football team, owner of the best barbecue joint in town, and the local crime boss.

Aaron and Latour are both from the South, and they end up bringing a lot of both the good and the way-too-frequent bad of the Deep South. The noir is pitch-black — more a tragedy than a traditional Southern gothic — the characterization and dialogue are grand, and there’s even a recipe included for Aaron’s mom’s fried apple pies. And it’s just $10, which is a great way to introduce this series to the crime fiction fan on your shopping list.

And finally, here’s The Wicked + the Divine: The Faust Act, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson.


This one has a really great hook — every 90 years, a dozen young people become the avatars of actual gods. They are worshiped and revered, despised and denounced. They perform miracles, and they perform concerts. And within two years, all of them die. It’s time for a new celestial cycle, and we follow two main characters — Laura, a divine fangirl and wannabe, and Luci, which is short for Lucifer. She’s the Devil.

The art is crisp and glorious, the story is inspired and mind-blowing, and the characters are people you want to learn more and more and more about. The “gods as supernatural pop stars” is a fantastic set-up, and the mystery at the heart of the story is fascinating and terrifying. You’ve got someone on your holiday list who would absolutely love this one, and you can get it for ’em for just ten bucks.

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Which Planet?


Bitch Planet #1

Basically, it’s a women-in-prison comic — set in spaaaaace, and written by Kelly Sue DeConnick. It’s the horrible future, and there’s a whole planet where Earth sends women who are criminals or unpleasant or unattractive or inconvenient or no longer desired. Escape is questionable, survival is unlikely, and mercy is almost entirely impossible.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s still way too early — we don’t meet many characters — or at least we don’t meet them as anything other than stereotypes. But what we’re getting here is heavy focus on the setting and themes. We’ve got many issues to get to know the women here better, and if we know DeConnick, she’ll have lots of great surprises in store for us as to these people’s personalities.


Shutter #7

Kate Kristopher, her newly-discovered brother Chris, and her trusty robot cat pal are being attacked by a freakin’ gigantic dragon. But luckily, they don’t end up destroyed — they just get dragged off to Cambodia to meet up with another newly-discovered sibling — one with a particularly impolite method of greeting her long-lost sister.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of outstanding action and weirdness. Holy shmokes, the dragon is all kinds of freaky, and Kate’s sister is pretty dang weird, too.


Southern Bastards #6

More of the rotten childhood of Coach Boss, back when he was just a scrawny kid from the wrong side of the tracks who wanted desperately to play football. The coach didn’t want him, the other players didn’t want him, his dad didn’t want him. The only person willing to give him any help at all is Coach Big, an old blind black man who knows football better than anyone in Craw County. But even as he improves enough to let him play on the team, there may still be something serious that’ll keep him off the field.

Verdict: Thumbs up. More grungy Southern noir, with more emphasis on football and race in the South. And so very much more crime, seen close-up from Euless Boss’s point of view. It’s interesting to see the unloveable Coach Boss back when he still had a chance to be something other than a crime kingpin…

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Merry Christmas from the Avengers!
  • For your holiday sippin’, here’s Ike’s Eggnog.
  • This article about the ongoing D&D revival isn’t all bad, but it has a lot of the stuff that concerns me about the whole phenomenon. Ultimately, it’s not about much more than nostalgia, plus there’s a lot of weird anti-tech, anti-modernity, anti-younger generation bulldada wrapped up in this stuff. Playing in-person pen-and-paper RPGs won’t save the world, and the Internet won’t doom the world either. Anyone who thinks the younger generation is less imaginative because they grew up with computers instead of D&D is just playing the bash-the-youngsters game, and that’s one of the worst games out there.

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Southern Culture on the Skids


Southern Bastards #5

Earl Tubb tried to clean up Craw County, Alabama, and all he got in return was to get murdered by Coach Boss with his own beat-down stick. So now we’re gonna get a few issues of focus on Coach Boss himself, from his humble beginnings as an undersized and under-talented football player with more ambition and dedication than he knows what to do with to his current status as the man who makes Craw County skip to his tune. Coach Boss is actually keeping the broken tree limb — still blood-stained — that he used to cave in Earl’s skull, and none of his henchmen can quite believe he’s not willing to destroy it, or that he’s willing to attend Earl’s funeral. But Coach soon becomes obsessed with the idea that everyone in town is just going to conveniently forget Earl’s murder, just so they don’t have to remember their own cowardice and complicity in letting it happen.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A bit less of the sweltering, filthy Southern noir we’ve seen in previous issues — this one seems to be more about building the world of Craw County and Coach Boss. We get more of what Boss thinks about, and a bit more about the other movers-and-shakers in Craw County.


The Goon: Occasion of Revenge #3

So the Kid is one of the Goon’s right-hand men. He grew up abandoned by his low-life (but big money) father while his mother poured her own hatred for her former lover into her son. He grew up to be a talented boxer, but a cheating opponent loaded his gloves and almost crushed the Kid’s skull. But the Goon gave him a job, and now that the so-called Magpies are waging war on the Goon and his organization, the Kid has been given an important job — he needs to guard an important ally from an allied crime family that’s willing to help the Goon against the Magpies. But there’s a secret mole in the Goon’s organization, and a secret the Kid doesn’t know about yet.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of seriously gorgeous art in this issue, not to mention to hard-luck noir that Eric Powell does so well. Just one issue left in this miniseries? Can’t imagine how this is all going to turn out.

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Southern Inhospitality


Southern Bastards #4

Earl Tubb has returned to Craw County, Alabama only to see one of his few allies, a little kid who was really more interested in watching Earl’s TV, brutally beaten and maimed by the thuggish minions of Coach Boss. He heads out for a final confrontation with the stooges, expecting most of the law-abiding citizens of Craw County to be on his side — but he quickly learns it just ain’t so. And things get a great deal worse for Earl when he finally meets up with Coach Boss.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s still a fantastic Southern noir — sweltering in summer heat that never seems to cool down and basted in grime and sweat and barbecue sauce — but it’s also something a great deal older. This is a Southern tragedy, and Earl Tubb’s fatal flaw, from the beginning, has been his stubbornness. Earl doesn’t get a happy ending, but he gets the right ending, the only one this story could really offer. The series is going to continue — perhaps the new protagonist will fare better.


Clive Barker’s Nightbreed #4

We follow Chocolat, demonic in appearance, though far more maternal in nature, as she is forced to leave her children behind centuries ago in Europe. In time, she comes to America, always hiding, always on the run from humans who hate her because of her monstrous looks, until she finally finds a place to belong. We also follow Rev. Ashberry, dedicated to eradicating sin, preferably by blade and garrotte. We get to follow him all the way up to where he makes his first appearance in the classic 1990 horror fantasy film. All that, plus we get an appearance by Vasty Moses!

Verdict: Thumbs up. I was actually kinda expecting that my enjoyment of this series was about to start dying down, but the good news is that the stories here are still appealing, still resonant, still fun to read. I’m hopeful it’ll stay that way for a while.

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The Art of the Beat-Down


Moon Knight #5

A girl has been kidnapped and is being held on the fifth floor of a six-floor building. Moon Knight, dressed in his incredibly-spiffy white suit, walks up six flights of stairs beating the crap out of every crook he meets. That’s it. That’s the entire plot.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s all the plot you need. I hate to say it’s a ballet of violence, but screw it, it’s a ballet of violence. It’s a really, really good ballet of violence. This is the next-to-the-last issue of Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire’s run on this series, and I absolutely pity whoever has to follow them up. They’ve rocked on mysteries, on head-trippy stuff, on superhero stuff, and they’ve turned a straightforward fight comic into the best darn comic of the whole month. I swear, Marvel should just cancel the series and not force the followup team to suffer through the coming reviews.


Southern Bastards #3

Earl Tubb has embraced his daddy’s legacy. He’s got himself a great big ass-whupping plank of wood and a desire to visit vengeance on Craw County’s scumbags. But beating down on a few rednecks won’t solve the bone-deep problems with baked-in Alabama corruption. Earl Tubb is just one man, and if the bad guys can’t find him, they’ll hurt anyone who has a connection to him…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I don’t know where y’all live, but here, it’s a roasting hot Texas summer. It gets hot in the morning, gets hotter as the day goes on, and doesn’t start to cool down ’til well after sundown. It’s a weird feeling — it’s nighttime, it’s still uncomfortably hot and humid, and as a result, everyone is sweaty and miserable and pissed-off. This comic book feels that way, too. And in this case, that’s actually a good thing.


Lazarus #9

It’s time for the Lift Selection — the Waste of the world, poverty-stricken, jobless, and mostly unwanted, have a chance to get hired as part of the staff of the Family Carlyle. The Barrets have traveled all the way to Denver and lost a daughter, all in the hope that their remaining child and a family friend can be designated Serfs and save the family from utter destitution. But at the same time, a terrorist is stalking the hordes of people in Denver, hoping to get close enough to the Carlyle patriarch to blow him up with a bomb. Can the Barrets make it through the punishing selection process? And can Forever Carlyle manage to find the terrorist before he massacres hundreds?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a tense, well-told, compassionate three-pronged story. The art is gorgeous, the writing is pretty darn grand, and the reader is stuck with conflicting emotions — the Carlyles are representations of a horrible corporate tyranny, but they’re also the only hope the Barrets have of escaping grinding poverty — whose side do you choose?


Black Widow #8

While running an op, Natasha runs into the Winter Soldier, and they both get attacked by a horde of mercenaries. While they try to survive the paramilitary assault, Natasha’s lawyer is forced to take less-than-legal methods to recover money they haven’t been paid and must also deal with the repercussions of being the Black Widow’s public lawyer and business agent.

Verdict: As with so many issues of this series, there’s nothing particularly wrong with this issue, but it just bored me so much. Fantastic art, though — many kudos to Phil Noto.

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Judas Tree


Trees #1

A new science fiction series from Warren Ellis is always worth checking out. Our premise here is that a decade ago, the aliens showed up on Earth. They drove thousands of implausibly gigantic metal towers into the planet, reaching who knows how deep or how high — and they’ve never bothered to say a word to us. They’ve completely ignored every attempt to communicate. So now, humanity has to live with the gigantic Trees that have scarred entire cities. In Rio de Janeiro, they release some sort of waste product that kills thousands of people; in New York, the city has been wrecked and divided between haves and have-nots; in China, a whole city has sprung up around one of the Trees; and in the Arctic, the Trees have started producing their own life. What does it all mean?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Most of this issue is about establishing our premise and our setting — and they’re very, very interesting. The art by Jason Howard does a lot for establishing how grand and how brain-breaking the Trees are and for creating this world that’s impossibly strange and perfectly familiar. Let’s all enjoy this one, folks.


Clive Barker’s Nightbreed #1

Do you know how much I loved “Nightbreed” when I saw it — gee whiz, all the way back in 1990? I loved that movie so blasted much. Yeah, it was flawed in some really important ways, but I still loved it, loved the monsters, loved the setting, loved the characters, loved the bits I read about in Fangoria that never made it into the actual film, loved the Clive Barker story it was based on. Oh, they’re making a new comic about it? Yes, I’ll be down with that.

Our first issue follows the Nightbreed through the past. We watch a couple escaped slaves trying to flee through the Louisiana swamps — until one of them is bitten by the tentacle-haired Peloquin and turned into a new Nightbreed. And in Boston in 1945, a clean-living senator pays a secret visit to a house of ill repute — and the beautiful but prickly Shuna Sassi.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a nice start to the series — and Nightbreed-in-History format looks like it’ll be a nice way to avoid trying to make a not-a-sequel sequel. It might be a little disappointing not to get to roam around Midian itself, this approach seems like it’ll be promising, too.


Southern Bastards #2

Earl Tubb is really looking forward to getting out of Craw County, Alabama. He wasn’t able to chop down the tree growing out of his daddy’s grave, but he’s got the old homestead packed up and ready to leave in the morning. All he needs to do is find something to keep him occupied on one Friday night. So he goes to the local high school football game. He’d played for the Rebs years ago, but things are different now. Coach Boss runs the team, Coach Boss runs the town, Coach Boss runs everything. And when Earl’s old friend Dusty winds up on the field beat to death by Coach Boss’s goons, and the local law won’t do anything because they don’t want to make Coach Boss mad, Earl is still planning on letting it go and getting the hell out of town — until a storm and a bolt of lightning help change his mind.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Such grimy, rotten, chicken-fried noir — it’s pert-near perfect. It feels hot and humid and bloody and chaw-stained, like it’s all baked right into the pages. Southern noir doesn’t get done often enough for my tastes, and it’s nice to see it done so wonderfully here.

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High Plains Robo


Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle #1

After the events of the last storyline, Atomic Robo has been stranded in the American West in 1872. He’s trying to keep a low profile and avoid upsetting the timestream. But of course, this is a Western, and keeping a low profile never works for the hero, does it? He rescues an old man shot by outlaws and carts him off to Alamosa, Colorado to find a doctor — too bad the only doctor in town is a dentist named Doc Holliday. But the outlaws have chased them down to the local saloon, and they’re threatening to kill everyone in town. And why does everyone think Robo is actually a guy named Ironhide — who died years ago?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Atomic Robo in the Old West? With Doc Holliday? Shut up and take my money!


Southern Bastards #1

We got Earl Tubb, an old man come back to his old home town in Craw County, Alabama. His father was the heroic and ass-kicking sheriff decades ago who carried a baseball bat signed by Bear Bryant, Joe Namath, and Elvis Presley to beat down the thugs who attacked him. But Bertrand Tubb has been dead for years, a tree is growing out of his grave, and Earl is trying to clean out the old homestead so he can get out of Alabama once and for all. But it isn’t long before Earl runs afoul of the local redneck crime cartel, and things are just gonna get worse for him from here on out.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’ve lived in the South and the Southwest my whole life, but I’ve never been in the Deep South, or even East Texas. But I recognize these characters, and I feel sorry for them at the same time as I hate ’em at the same time as I love ’em. Stupid Southern cultural genetics. Anyway, this is a great slice of deep-fried Southern noir by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, and I’m really, genuinely looking forward to more of this. Pick it up while it’s still in the stores, guys.


Silver Surfer #2

The Surfer heads out to battle the Queen of Nevers, a being more than powerful enough to destroy him. Instead, he discovers that the Queen is the wronged party here — her heart has been stolen away to keep the glorious Impericon powered. The Surfer resolves to retrieve her heart, but he must be able to sneak back into the Impericon, so he has to disguise himself and hide his cosmic powers deep inside him. Meanwhile, Dawn Greenwood, captured and held captive with a bunch of other aliens in the Motivator Cubes, leads a daring breakout. Can she and the other prisoners escape the planet and save the Silver Surfer at the same time?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic art, and a story that combines the high cosmic adventure you’d expect from a Silver Surfer comic with a more down-to-earth human story. This strikes me as something that’s really going to be amazing.

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