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'That Texas Blood' Vol. 2 review
Image Comics

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‘That Texas Blood’ Vol. 2 review

Considering the shortcomings of the last volume, can the creators of That Texas Blood up their game?

When I reviewed the first volume of That Texas Blood one year ago, I praised the comic for its strong characterization and stunning visualization of small-town Texas. The story obviously took cues from creators like Ed Brubaker, however, and thus you will recognize the air of familiarity in how it tells a crime story. As writer Chris Condon and artist Jacob Phillips return to Ambrose County, Texas for another six issues, what new horrors will aging sheriff Joe Bob Coates will face? 

Following the events of the last arc, Joe Bob makes a visit to his local church and speaks to the pastor about the evil that seems to be plaguing his home. When the pastor reminds him about a cult that terrorized Ambrose County in 1981, Joe Bob travels down the long and winding road of memory to a dark night when he was a deputy who teamed up with an outsider named Harlan Eversaul as they both investigated the death of a boy and the disappearance of his sister. 

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Although I do think the Brubaker influence is still here – in the extensive dialogue, if nowhere else – and Jacob Phillips’ art no doubt evokes the gritty style that has defined his father Sean’s work, this volume seems to allow the creators to find their own voice. With an element of No Country for Old Men thrown in here, your protagonist is a sheriff past his prime looking back on his past by telling a story to his fellow officer about an evil he fought years ago. Considering how dark the story goes, the old Joe Bob adds some levity knowing that he has survived the ordeal. 

However, what drives this book, which predominately takes place in 1981, is the partnership between the young Joe Bob and the eccentric outsider who likes to quote Shakespeare. Given the frustrated sheriff’s office that reluctantly enlists this investigator, Harlan Eversaul deserves his own comic — he is gung-ho and feels unconventional to the lawful workings of Ambrose County. However, it is Joe Bob that serves as the emotional anchor due to his connection with the town and thus his interactions with its people can get emotional. 

As well as doing the coloring, Jacob Phillips uses it to distinguish the present day and 1981, with the former using a brighter palette, whilst the latter is all about the muted visuals, which can cause the art to look more simplified than usual in a number of pages. However, with the presence of a Mayan-based cult, it does set up a horror aesthetic to this Texan-based crime narrative and thus presents some striking imagery, from the klansmen to the splashing blood. Given how heavy the dialogue is, there are sequences where there is just silence, allowing the visual storytelling to really shine and show what the characters are feeling.

That Texas Blood Vol. 2 is a definite improvement from the first volume, as its two creators find their own voices in a Texas-based crime thriller that has an element of cult horror.

'That Texas Blood' Vol. 2 review
‘That Texas Blood’ Vol. 2 review
That Texas Blood Vol. 2
That Texas Blood Vol. 2 is a definite improvement from the first volume, as its two creators find their own voices in a Texas-based crime thriller that has an element of cult horror.
Reader Rating1 Vote
9
With a mysterious cult serving as the antagonist, the story leans into horror.
Joe Bob continues to be a great protagonist, whilst his pairing with Harlan Eversaul is terrific.
Great art by Jacob Phillips, who uses color to distinguish the two time frames...
...though the muted look does simplify the detail.
The Brubaker influence still looms with the over-reliance on dialogue.
9
Great

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