As predicted, the current story arc in Southern Bastards will be focusing on several of the many supporting characters and individuals that have been appearing throughout the series.
Last time, we got to see Sheriff Hardy and this time, we’re turning over to Coach Boss’ muscle, Esaw Goings. Is it good?
Southern Bastards #10 (Image Comics)
As much as it hurts to say it — this is the weakest issue of Southern Bastards to date. It’s not a bad comic, but it feels like it is lacking so much in comparison to the previous issues. There’s barely any semblance of a story (possibly some hints of the hell that is to come with Homecoming), the characterization is lacking, and there’s no real power to this issue that made previous ones great. Much of the blame can go towards the focus of the issue: Esaw himself.
Jason Aaron has done a marvelous job in the past at developing and making his characters so intriguing (from Scalped to Southern Bastards. Even if they are not good people in the slightest, like Coach Boss and Red Crow, you can’t help but get wrapped up in their story and want to see more of them. Esaw is the exact opposite. There’s nothing remotely interesting presented or revealed about him in Southern Bastards #10 — it gets to the point where you just want him to go away. He’s just a true, shallow and dull bastard inside out with how hateful and ugly he is. I would almost compare him to Diesel Engine from Scalped, who was just as lonesome and heinous a character, but even he had more depth revealed in his character-focused issue. All we get is to do is to follow around Esaw for an entire issue with nothing else going on and it’s not particularly enjoyable. Even if that is the intention, that we not supposed to like Esaw or be interested in him, Aaron could have at least given us some story to grasp onto.
Everything else about the issue is good at least. Aaron brings up decent dialogue, pacing, and an occasional touch of humor. Jason Latour’s artwork is the same way, presenting his usual gritty artwork that fits the tone of the book and characters looking good in a not so good-looking world. The only downside to Latour’s artwork is questionably placed sex scene, which is extremely unappealing to look at and adds nothing to the experience remotely. Last thing to note is the lack of power to the narrative, as mentioned previously. Most of the issues in the past had something big to them every issue. Something that hits you emotionally, shocked you, was a surprisingly revelation about a character, or the plot pulled an interesting twist. This lacks any of that and as such, doesn’t have any bite or impact to it like the past issues. A bit disappointing.
Is It Good?
Southern Bastards #10 is the first time the series has let me down. Jason Aaron presented us with a very unappealing and ugly individual in Esaw and unlike he usually does — did nothing with the individual at all and reiterated points we already knew about him. Combined with a lack of strong characterization across the board and lack of story, this is the weakest issue of the series to date. If Esaw doesn’t sound like the type of character that’s enough to carry an issue for you, you might be better off waiting until you can get the next issue as well.