Coach Big is dead. That fact no doubt affects people in lots of different ways in Craw County, and the larger mythic universe of Southern Bastards. But before we get to all of that, the immediate task is to get someone to serve as Defensive Coach under Coach Boss. The job, as it turns out, falls to one of the most shocking and brutal expressions of Southern white rage ever to appear in literature: Esaw Goings.
Goings would be a plum part for an actor really looking to commit to the anti-hero. He is an absolute force of nature, all about power and violence and sex and revenge. A character like that is never going to be satisfied by any conquest. He wants the world to bow down before the power in his loins (although he’d never put it exactly that way). He’s so “big” and broad in a terrifyingly realistic way that a casual reader might make the mistake of taking him literally. Longtime readers of Southern Bastards know better. This is a world of realist fantasy, not unlike another strong Southern fable, Breaking Bad. If this were an opera, Esaw would swagger out on stage and try to steal the show halfway through, simply by how he demands the world’s approval, rather than asking for it.
In the early, and very graphic, scenes of Southern Bastards issue #10, Esaw Goings’ name is used for the crudest of linguistic puns, but that again is part of the landscape in this book. (Remember, the very first panel of issue #1 was of a dog squatting on the side of the highway. This opening is no less vulgar, but also no less self-aware in its sense of humour.) As the book goes on, we’re treated to Esaw’s inner monologue, which amounts to profound observations such as “Titties. Titties. Titties,” and “Fuck you.” At first, he’s repugnant, but by the end of the issue we can’t, as readers, help but be caught up in the ferocity with which he asserts his presence in the world. Esaw Goings will make sure the world knew he was here.
A well-meaning but hapless Preacher waits for Esaw Goings to finish a “task” in the next room. Yes… the dialogue works on two levels.
The actual narrative structure here allows us to follow Esaw around on a very significant day in his life, as he essentially kidnaps a Christian missionary who came to his house to preach the word and takes him on his grim “rounds”. That he doesn’t actually kill this man in the course of the day is something of a miracle, but the “Bible Bitch”, as Esaw names him, gives us an entertaining and interesting fish-out-of-water audience perspective on the events.
The only person in the entire county that can reign in the deeply unstable pile of testosterone is Coach Boss himself. It’s interesting to see exactly how Esaw responds to the Coach, showing deference and gratitude, while of course pounding his chest about how good a job he’s going to do. Before too long he’s taking the “Bible Bitch”’s advice on football, or at least is in need of it. Like many men of this nature, he’s literally all talk. But not exactly no action: the two things he shows the most interest in is sex (he finds a creative use for hot sauce) and violence (of the “Beating” variety, but given the environment, guns do make an appearance).
Since this is only chapter one of what creators Jason Aaron and Jason Latour are calling “The Gospel According to Esaw Goings”, it’s difficult to say where this will all lead. But we can be sure, since this is in fact Southern Bastards, it will be twisted, witty, dark and poetic.