Zeb Larson reviews Southern Bastards #6…
Dig further into the grim past of the biggest bastard of them all, and discover how Coach Boss came to be the most feared man in all Craw County.
Are bastards born, or are they made? This issue of Southern Bastards looks at what made Euless Boss into the grade-A bastard that he is, and what happened to Euless along the way is pretty dark. There are some spoilers ahead in the review, so read on at your own discretion.
This issue is still looking at Euless’ high school years and his rise to power. Euless was far from a born natural when it came to football, and he spent his high school years getting the snot beaten out of him. That all changed when he met Ol’ Big, a blind black man who was able to offer him advice on how to play football better than the other boys. Even as Euless is able to improve, however, he can’t escape the family that he grew up in. His father is an especially scary, weird man, and his father’s failings are catching up to father and son.
The racial dynamic in this issue is interesting, as Euless basically threw his lot in with the black football players and an older black man. Based on the sheer number of racial slurs being thrown around, it’s easy to imagine that this was a controversial thing to do, but Euless is coming from a place where he has absolutely nothing to lose. Euless
Southern Bastards wants to drive home the lesson that people are fundamentally incapable of escaping where they’re from. In the first story arc, this lesson was true of Earl Tubb. Try as he might, Tubb could not escape his father’s legacy or the lure of the town he grew up in. In many ways, Boss is in the exact same position. Why else focus on being a high school football coach? He’s trying to prove himself to a parent that never really cared about him and to a town that only treated him like poor white trash.
It’s a testament to the writing that I finished this issue feeling sort of sorry for Euless. It’s probably inevitable that anybody coming from what he saw would either be broken or beyond ruthless, and he ended up as the latter. As a story arc, “Gridiron” might be even more interesting than “Here Was a Man.” Southern Bastards has struck again.