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Comic Book / Southern Bastards

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"It ain't worth the blood."

Southern Bastards is an ongoing Image Comics series by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour chronicling the exploits of Craw County, Alabama following the return of Earl Tubb, former High School Defensive End and son to legendary former Sheriff Bertrand "Big Bert" Tubb. Earl merely wants to pack up the belongings of a family member moving out of town for medical reasons, eat a rack of ribs, check out his former team the Runnin' Rebs play a game of ball, and get the hell out of town. However, he sees how much worse the town has become, a hotbed of drug dealing and violence headed by the Rebs' coach, Euless Boss. Against his better judgment, Earl decides to do something about it. However, things aren't exactly that cut and dried...

Writer Jason Aaron and artist Jason Latour created the series as a tribute to the best and worst things about the South, of which both come from. The series could be described as Scalped meets Walking Tall (1973). It topped many people's lists as one of the best comic series of 2015.


Southern Bastards contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Berta Tubb, being a former Marine that served in Afghanistan.
  • A Day in the Limelight: the third arc is a collection of one shots about side characters— Sheriff, Esaw, and Boone each get an issue devoted to them while Tad and Materhead share the last one.
  • Abusive Parents: Euless Boss' father.
  • Arc Words: "It's worth the blood". This is in reference to Euless and how he's determined to not let go of football no matter what it takes, whether it's being regularly beaten up by football players, undergoing a rigorous training program by Big, playing the game with a bad leg, or murdering his own father in order to guarantee a position as coach. Big, upon finding out about Euless murdering Earl in front of a crowd who did nothing to stop it, is finally forced to admit that he helped in creating a monster. He commits suicide and leaves a message: It ain't worth the blood.
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  • Asshole Victim: Not many tears were shed when Euless's father was murdered. Certainly not by his son.
  • Ax-Crazy: Esaw.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Boss' BBQ where you can get really good ribs, pecan pie, and crystal meth.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Coach Boss kills Earl at the end of the first arc.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The circumstances behind Earl's decision to take matters into his own hands are almost supernatural— the tree over his father's grave is struck by lightning as he chops it down and leaves behind a large branch similar to the stick his father carried as Sheriff. Subverted when Coach Boss kills Earl at the end of the first arc with it.
  • Big Bad: Coach Boss runs both the football team and the drug trade with an iron fist.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Euless Boss was rising up as a star athlete until his father's shady associates came to collect their debt. When the elder Boss couldn't pay them, they send a warning by shooting Euless's leg which ended his stardom.
  • Crapsack World: Craw County is a terrible place to live.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Back when he was a scrawny teen in high school, Euless was regularly picked on and beaten up by the members of the football team. Earl was team captain back in the day and could have called it off, but personally admits that he never gave a damn and let the team do what they wanted, leading to Euless to become the ruthless crook he is today.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Earl, who's killed by Boss in issue 4.
  • Deconstruction: Of Clean Up the Town. Earl attempts a Walking Tall style uprising against Boss's fiefdom and dies almost immediately.
  • Deep South: Obviously.
  • Dirty Coward: The current Sheriff is completely incapable of going against Coach Boss, be it for drug trafficking or even murder.
  • The Dragon: Esaw to Boss.
  • Driven to Suicide: Big shoots himself after Boss kills Earl, having finally seen the monster he's become. His last note? "It ain't worth the blood.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Coach Boss regard Big as his true father than the one he had.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Coach Boss might be a murdering drug dealer but when his underlings suggest he take a rival team's star player out before the game, Boss is utterly repulsed by the idea. After losing two games to mediocre teams, Boss decides his standards aren't that high and decides to go through with it, anyway.
  • Film Noir: A Southern fried flavor of the genre.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Coach Boss started off as a weakling nobody could take seriously as a football star. Through guts and brutality, he makes himself de facto leader of all of Craw County.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Big building the young Boss up from a weakling into a strong man. It worked all right...and turned the boy into a monster.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: It's implied that Earl's natural talent as a football player grates on Euless Boss as adults since Euless had to claw and scrape for every little success he had as a football player.
  • Magical Negro: Big to Euless. Eventually subverted when Big realizes he's created a monster.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Said verbatim by Big when he realizes his attempts to help poor Euless have turned the boy into a ruthless monster willing to kill to keep in power in football.
  • Never My Fault: Coach Boss is completely incapable of believing his antics drove Big to kill himself and insists beyond his better judgment foul play was involved. The Sheriff is punched for trying to talk sense in him.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Boss got his position by killing his own father.
  • Serious Business: Football is goddamned sacred in these parts. Coach Boss in particular treats games as serious as a general would battles in a war.
  • Sequel Hook: At the end of issue 8, Earl's daughter Roberta is coming home from being a Marine in Afghanistan to investigate her father's murder.
  • Start of Darkness: The second arc of the series is about Euless Boss' past (mostly in the form of flashbacks interspersed with the repercussions of him killing Earl, and how his shitty life and love of football drove him to become the awful man he is in the present.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Earl.
  • Truth in Television: There's not a lot that matters to rural, small-town Alabamians more than football. And if you mess with a town's football team, you're Public Enemy Number One.
  • Wham Episode: Issue 4. After all the set-up of Earl as the Big Good or the story, Boss coldly beats him to death in the streets of Craw County while everyone just stares on in horror.
    • Issue 8. Euless Boss kills his own father, and Big is Driven to Suicide by Boss's actions.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • Earl thinks he's the lone guy to stand up to stop the evil of Boss and the rest of the town will side with him.
    • Big takes on the poor young Euless, playing the Eccentric Mentor and Magical Negro to try and turn this kid into a football star. Instead, Euless becomes so obsessed with using football to get ahead that he turns to murder to become coach and keep in power and Big realizes he's unleashed a psychopath on the town.

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