Zeb Larson reviews Southern Bastards #8…
The final chapter in the story of how the worst football player in Craw County rose to become “Coach Boss,” and the terrible bloody price he had to pay along the way. Don’t miss the chilling conclusion of “Gridiron,” the second arc in the seminal southern crime series.
Southern Bastards’ second story arc has come to a close, and we can see the ascendance of Euless Boss as king bastard of Craw County. This issue is a strong set-up for the next story arc, when we will likely switch back to the present. I am avoiding major spoilers for this issue, so feel free to read on without any worries.
Euless Boss has finally figured out how he’s going to become the coach in Craw County, but he’s going to need his father’s help to do it. Once he’s in power, he consolidates his hold on power violently, a move which troubles Big and leads him to wonder just what he’s created in Boss. All of this creates problems for Boss in the present as Big can’t stand the misdeeds anymore, and a long-gone citizen of Alabama is ready to come home and take stock of Craw County.
The second arc of “Gridiron” has come to an end, and now we can see what made Boss into the bastard that he is. The humiliation of being a Boss and the constant degradation made him into a hard man. Euless was never particularly warm with Big, but he did treat him with a certain degree of respect and listen to his advice. The moment Euless takes the field as Coach, he’s immediately giving the orders, and his first is a reminder to Big that football is “worth the blood.” Big is effectively pushed into being Euless’ accomplice, and what does Euless want? He wants to break people, to see them quit.
This issue is a good one, yet it feels short because of Euless’ extended conversation with his father, which takes up close to ten pages of the book. I would have liked to see more of Euless’ consolidation of power, particularly the breaking of that other football coach. Some montage of Eueless’ various foes being killed or beaten might have signaled his complete transformation into the man that he is today. Even so, the arc still he speaks for itself and shows how you make a bastard.
Things are going to become violent from here on out (as if this book wasn’t violent before). There are still a number of citizens of Craw County that haven’t been properly introduced, and it will be interesting to see how Bert Tubb is going to handle the rot in Craw County. Who the next story arc will focus on is a good question, but we’re going into it with a strong understanding of who Euless is and what comes next.