This week Southern Bastards returns to the comic shelves, and Bryan Hitch works his magic on the Justice League of America!
Southern Bastards #9 (Image Comics)
Jasons Aaron and Latour bring their dark Southern epic back to the comic shops this week with Southern Bastards #9. The start of a new story arc, the latest trip to Craw County introduces us to Sheriff Hardy, who’s investigating the death of Coach Big from last issue.
Sheriff Hardy’s investigation brings him all over town, interacting with citizens who barely respect his authority. Of course, he knows that Big’s death was a suicide, but he’s in Coach Boss’ back pocket, which means that he’s going to have to bend the rules to make reality fit into Boss’ fiction. And with Homecoming just a few weeks away, Boss’ patience for anything that might distract him from winning the game is very thin.
Hardy, like almost all of the Southern Bastards characters, has major ties to Coach Big and Boss. A former linebacker, Hardy had an “accident” with his leg that crushed his dreams of playing college ball and leaving Craw County behind. Jason Aaron’s script hinges on Hardy, and he really nails the feelings of despair and entrapment that Hardy feels. He’s a man that tried desperately to get out of Craw County, to better himself, but like all members of this town, he’ll never be allowed to leave.
Jason Latour’s artwork is fantastic this issue. Honestly, it’s fantastic every issue. But with this issue Latour, like Aaron, taps into the sadness of Craw County. There’s a feeling of missing the “glory days” on Hardy and other townspeople’s faces, and it’s impossible to not feel for these citizens.
The waits between each issue of Southern Bastards are nearly unbearable, but every issue has been more than worth the wait. This is a series that truly stands as one of the best series out there, and is essential reading for fans of comics. Jason Aaron and Jason Latour’s series is, simply put, phenomenal, and a heartbreaking look into the lives of the people of Craw County. Judging by this issue, things are only going to get worse for those who live under Coach Boss’ rule. Luckily for us, the worse things get for them, the better Southern Bastards becomes.
JLA: Justice League of America #1 (DC Comics)
Bryan Hitch is regarded by many as one of the artists who helped kick start “the Modern Age” of comics. From his work on The Authority to The Ultimates, Hitch has made a huge mark on the world of comics, and now he’s setting his sights on the DC universe, where he’s given the reins to DC’s premiere super team: The Justice League. However, unlike most Hitch comics, this new Justice League of America launch is also written by Hitch. I’m always wary whenever an artist also starts writing, but thankfully Hitch bucks this trend by turning out a pretty decent, if extremely lengthy, opening issue.
JLA: Justice League of America #1 finds Superman meeting with a new renewable energy start up company, who introduce him to something startling: a device that has been sending Supermen from alternate timelines to them seconds before they die. All have been trying to send a warning before they die, but no one can make out the meaning behind their warning. Later on, the Justice League arrives at the company, where they’re attacked by Parasite. After a lengthy battle with the creature, the team travels to New York City, where they (and Earth) are greeted by a new alien named Rao.
Hitch’s script is actually pretty good, but it’s extremely wordy. It’s also strange that for an artist known for his big, bombastic artwork, this opening issue features a lot of people explaining something that it’s going to happen to the Earth very soon. This vagueness starts to become pretty annoying after a while, especially when you’re at the halfway point of the book.
Another strange aspect of JLA is the timeline: Hitch’s script feels like something that was first created at the time of the launch of the “New 52” (which actually doesn’t sound too strange, since it’s been said that Hitch has been working on this series for two years). He also struggles a bit with differentiating the voices of the other team members. With the exceptions of Batman and Wonder Woman, the rest of the team’s word balloons could’ve been swapped and you’d never know. When it comes to the art, Hitch isn’t the artist he was when The Ultimates first launched, but it’s not bad either. Sure, there’s some weird anatomy here and there, but for the most part the art in JLA: Justice League of America is pretty good.
JLA: Justice League of America is off to an okay start, but I really hope that we get a little more movement on the plot in the next issue. For a comic that costs $6, there’s not a whole lot of action here, aside from the Parasite battle I mentioned earlier. Hitch is nowhere near as bad as some of the other artists turned writers, but he’s nothing special either. But if you’re looking for the Justice League to smash the crap out of something, this is your book. Just be ready to wait a little while before you get there.