Review - Ride Southern Gothic #1

If you're going to ride shotgun in Ride Southern Gothic #1 from 12-Gauge Comics, you'll probably need to bring a shotgun along. The travels these people go on are more than just a little crazy.

Ride Southern Gothic #1 is broken into three short stories. "Perfect Circle" is written by Nathan Edmondson, illustrated by Paul Azaceta and lettered by Ed Dukeshire. "Money Shot" is written by Jody LeHeup, illustrated by David Lapham and lettered by Jared Fletcher. "Paid in Full" is written by Ron Marz, illustrated by Rick Leonardi, inked by Dexter Vines and lettered by Troy Peteri.

The first of the three stories is a bit of karma, as the name "Perfect Circle" implies. At a party, a bevy of beauties are randomly selecting keys for drivers to go home with, only the Camaro is a less than reputable individual. One thing leads to another and the next thing you know the Camaro is being abandoned by the river. By the end of the story, all's well that ends well (sort of).

"Money Shot" focuses on Marco, a thief with a plan that doesn't go accordingly. Through a series of ill timed interferences, Marco eventually finds salvation in an attractive driver. The two shack up until the tables are turned and Marco doesn't come away with the earnings he felt he, well, earned.

Finally, "Paid in Full" is a story boasting the Dixie Mafia, a man named Coover and high speed car chases. The only thing it's missing a fast shooting US Marshall. Danny is bringing a prize to Lizard, a kingpin of sorts in what's presumably Kentucky. He delivers a less than stellar product, leading Lizard to seek recompense in the form of Danny's girlfriend. Only Danny's got something else going on.

The three stories all feature fast cars, hot women and a flair for breaking the law. And they actually work really well together. They all showcase a seedier side of life and have a Grindhouse feel to them, only without the excessive violence and gore.

Edmondson's story is the most self-contained, as it seems to have both a finite start and finish. The other two are left a little more open-ended, but only Marz's will continue in the next issue (thanks to a "To Be Continued" at the end). It's easy to see how LeHeup's could also be continued in the next issue, but as of now you'll have to be content with what you've got.

The art throughout is top-notch. Azaceta, Lapham, Leonardi and Vines all do a great job with the source material and present a rather unified art style. The difference between stories wasn't jarring or anything and the black and white really works well for the content.

Azaceta's is probably the grittiest looking, mainly because it looks like the setting is the 80s. That was a time of general debauchery to begin with, so it might be an unfair advantage, but his work probably stands out the most because of the shading effects.

Lapham, Leonardi and Vines all do equally respectable jobs with their stories. Lapham gives both Marco and his lady very fast and loose personalities that help move the story along. Leonardi and Vines present an equally fast car chase and rundown auto garage. The art just works.

Overall, Ride Southern Gothic #1 is actually really enjoyable. It's three strong stories from some of the industry's best these days and taps into the same area of the zeitgeist that Justified does. The stories are definitely on the mature side, but there also about crime, sex and violence. They're not going to be rated G.

Ride Southern Gothic #1 is in stores September 5 with interiors below.