Review – That Texas Blood #9
Review – That Texas Blood #9
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Chris Condon
Artwork: Jacob Phillips
Colours: Jacob Philips
Release Date: 25th August 2021
Cover Artist: Jacob Philips.
Publication Design: Sean Phillips
I’m back to review That Texas Blood #9 after taking a look at Vol 1 and issue #8. “EVERSAUL, 1981,” Part three continues the story within the story in Ambrose County. Sheriff Joe Bob Coates delves further into the past for his captive audience, Deputy Ana Flores, filling the gaps, for her and us about the missing girl back in 1981. P.I. Harlan Eversaul keeps running against the grain of Sheriff Sam Cooper when we return to the 80’s. He’s trying to prove a connection with his own missing persons case and it’s connections to the notorious rock and roll photographer, Terry Wellman. He has a young Deputy Joe Bob on his side but his LA ways don’t go down easy with the small town lawmen.
Present day Joe Bob is still pondering the darkness he sees around him. He tells Deputy Flores how when Eversaul spoke of there just being something wrong in the soil of Ambrose County, it was something he knew deep down. The previous issue of That Texas Blood was heavy in exposition, this time round we get down to the work of detecting. Eversaul in the days of Joe’s youth has rallied the Sheriff’s department to question what they can from Terry Wellman. A character that casts a shadow not unlike Charles Manson. Eversaul paints Wellman as a messiah to a cult concerned with a Mayan Bat God that demands blood sacrifices in exchange for power.
As we saw in previous issues the body of Darrin Freeman, brother of the missing girl, Laila Freeman was found with bodies of cult members in robes. The same Cult that Wellman is the ‘figure head’ of. Sheriff Sam is reluctant to follow Eversaul’s line of thought that they are linked, seeing it as nothing more than a hunch. Eversaul’s theatrical demeanor is at odds with the Texas men, they think him a hack, he’s an outsider. A role Eversaul seems no stranger to, in fact he thrives in it. His unconventional ways have served him well thus far in his unconventional cases.
The meeting at Wellman’s is given room to breath by Chris Condon. So much is told in looks and short back and forth dialogue. There’s a grounding in realism that helps all the characters shine in their specificity. There’s an authenticity to the people we meet in That Texas Blood that gives you the sense of familiarity with them. It’s like a story told by a friend, and for the most part in this book, that friend is Joe Bob Coates.
Story is something Joe is concerned with when filling Deputy Flores in on the events of 1981, he wants to get it just right. It brings spoken story telling as art to mind for an Irishman like me when Deputy Flores tells her own ominous tale of the past. Coming from rural Ireland I can’t help but see similarities in my birth place and Ambrose County. Telling stories by a fire is setting of traditional Irish story telling. We see people telling stories by the fire in previous issues in a subconscious dreamscape that Joe keeps getting drawn back to. While Joe and Deputy Ana are telling their stories in a sunny daytime diner, the eeriness of them would be just as suited to being beside a fire in the black of night.
I bring up the Irish connection as this issue reminded me of The Weir, a play written by Irish Playwright Conor McPherson. Four locals in a country pub on a stormy night, share ghost stories and frighten the life out of each other and the viewer/reader. Well worth a visit to the theatre if you ever get the chance to see it. I believe it’s produced worldwide, but it’s one of those plays that reads extremely well. It only has a few characters but it treats them well. Making conversation, wit and personality the stars of the show. And that’s exactly what Condon does with That Texas Blood.
From hearing him talk in interviews about how That Texas Blood grew from one story to an anthology I find it interesting to see the characters themselves sharing the story telling responsibilities. It just makes me think how this series can blossom, Condon is very creative in mining his cast and setting for rich story. I’m hooked, not only do I want to see how “Eversaul 1981” ends, but I want to see where or when the series goes next.
The narrative dexterity of time and place jumping between scenes is thrilling in this book, it has a great pace that is brought before our eyes by Jacob Phillips. I talked in my last review about the contrasting colour choices Phillips employees when rendering past or present Ambrose county. This month again, true to form, it’s as fresh as issue one. The colours chart the issue, setting moods and vibes, a scene change to young Joe in the Sheriff’s department made a funky guitar chord play in my head just looking at the colours used. Every section of the issue is clearly defined by it’s colours, you never have to second guess where you are in time, or even memory as we see another drastic change in palette and style when Deputy Flores tells her story.
Just like Condon, Phillips is a master at mining his cast and setting for rich story. As I said so much of this issue is down to looks, when something is said and when something isn’t said. The facial expressions and body language are so on point, so exact you couldn’t mistake what was said or how it wasn’t said.
As for setting, Phillips is consistent in delivering cinematic scope in framings of the locations. While Condon has a freedom in who he tells stories about, Phillips when not depicting fantastical imagery is tied to the rural setting, but you’d never think he was restricted at all. Along with the colours, I never tire of the pencils of That Texas Blood. Even when it’s taken away from the expansive vistas into little diners or Joe Bob’s hobby room where he assembles model airplanes, I just like what I see. I’ll be looking forward to checking out Jacob Phillips’ recently announced book, Newburn where he’ll work with Chip Zdarsky. (Also published by Image comics)
In reviewing That Texas Blood #9 I’m just as on board with this series as I was from seeing the cover for Vol 1. The tension, humour, warmth and ingenuity of story and art have me fully engaged. The looming threat of something even more sinister and monstrous than we’ve seen underneath it all makes for great excitement. The “EVERSAUL, 1981” arc of That Texas Blood, will continue through to issue #12.
If you enjoyed our Review of That Texas Blood #8 then please leave a comment or your own rating below.
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