Welcome to Companion Pieces, a new feature on the Von’s Comics blog!
Some weeks you notice two new releases that seem perfectly timed. Sometimes it’s to releases from the same creator. Sometimes it’s two releases featuring the same character. Some days there is no tangible connection between the two releases until someone notices some thematic connection and writes about it.
This week we’re loving Men of Wrath #1 and Southern Bastards vol. 1
It’s a big week for Jason Aaron. Not only did he debut a brand new Thor in Thor #1, but he also released his new Icon book Men of Wrath. Men of Wrath sees Aaron once more working with frequent collaborator Ron Garney to bring us the story of the Rath family and the cycle of violence that has held them for generations. Aaron draws on an incident straight out of his own family history to show us how decades of violence can begin. Having shown us what set this clan on this dark, destructive path, Aaron’s cliffhanger ending leaves us wondering if we will be witness to one of the Raths breaking the cycle or if an even more disturbing act of violence will be the end of the family as a whole.
This week also saw the release of the first paperback collection of Aaron and Jason Latour’s Image series Southern Bastards. Southern Bastards is the story of Earl Tubb, a man who has returned to his home town after forty years away. Tubb is looking to settle some family business and go home, but a chance meeting and an act of violence draws him into the violent world of Craw County, Alabama. Having once stepped away from this violent world, can Tubb now turn his back on it again before it threatens to consume him whole?
In a lot of ways, reading these two pieces together seems like bringing together two halves of the same whole. Both are, after all, about crime and family and community in the South. Aaron makes it clear that both these stories are personal, his way of dealing with a world that saw him grow and shaped him, but which he has moved on from. By taking both works together, readers will have the powerful atmospherics of Aaron’s writing and Garney and Latour’s art enhanced. Don’t be surprised if after reading both you’re left with a craving for some BBQ ribs, a glass of sweet tea, and more of Aaron’s fantastic crime comics.