Monday, January 18, 2010

Scalped: V3 & V4

Having received both an American Express gift card for Christmas, AND a lovely selection of discounts that could be used at my local comic shop, I found myself in a position to buy two trades recently. I looked over my shelves before I went to the store and gave it a great deal of thought as I browsed the stock at the shop. Ultimately it was not great contest. If I had about ten more dollars I would have gone with the Complete Edlund volume of the Tick, but beyond that, I had gone way too long without reading Jason Aaron's Scalped.

I picked up Volume 4, The Gravel In Your Guts, and Volume 5, High Lonesome. I read them pretty much straight through when I got home. I love this title. I usually say that Scalped is like a movie, in the best possible way that a comic can be like a movie. I believe now that Scalped is like the best possible gritty crime action/drama that you could hope to get on HBO or Showtime, or anywhere. It has great characters, great plot, intrigue, action, violence, sex, great writing and a real noir visual. I don't always love the art. I think it sometimes looks like a collection of grotesque racial stereotypes, excep for the fact that I have seen people who actually look like the pictures, so I don't think it is racist. It is gritty. It is often as ugly as the situations. This makes it really work.

I think that Aaron and Guera have the kind of complete connection that Brubaker and Philips do. The writing, the atmosphere and the art all gel perfectly in my opinion. This is times are hard and getting harder deep cover crime fiction. If you think things were bad before, you may be surprised by the capacity for them to get progressively worse in these two volumes. Dash Bad Horse, more or less our protagonist is in a hard downward spiral. At the same time even the really bad guys seem to be getting themselves into deeper shit.

In all of this, Red Crow, a big bad who could easily give the Kingpin a run for his money seems to have some bits of conscience and maybe regret or sensitivity that have opened up in him. That doesn't mean that anyone is safe, it may even mean the opposite. Red Crow really isn't a one dimensional character. I don't think even the strippers and whores and thugs are one dimensional in this.

This is an addictive series. For me, it is best to read the trade collections, but can be hard to wait. If you like gritty fast paced action and drama I recommend these highly.

Product Descriptions from Amazon.com
V4 The Gravel In Your Guts
This intense crime drama that mixes organized crime with current Native American culture.

Fifteen years ago, Dashiell "Dash" Bad Horse ran away from a life of poverty and hopelessness on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in search of something better. Now he's come back home armed with nothing but a set of nunchucks, a hell-bent-for-leather attitude and one dark secret, to find nothing much has changed on "The Rez" - short of a glimmering new casino, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime.

In this volume, Dash makes a dark and fateful decision that will forever affect his future on the reservation as he learns more secrets from his former girlfriend's past.

V5 High Lonesome
Jason Aaron, the hot new writer of the critically acclaimed limited series, THE OTHER SIDE, teams with gritty artist R.M. Guéra for an intense crime drama that mixes organized crime with current Native American culture. Fifteen years ago, Dashiell "Dash" Bad Horse ran away from a life of abject poverty and utter hopelessness on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation searching for something better. Now he's come back home armed with nothing but a set of nunchucs, a hell-bent-for-leather attitude and one dark secret, to find nothing much has changed on "The Rez" - short of a glimmering new casino, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime. Is he here to set things right or just get a piece of the action?

In this volume, we see the landscape of the Prairie Rose reservation through the eyes of a newcomer - a card shark and con man -
whose presence could spell doom for one of our main characters.

2 comments:

John said...

Fun Fact: The original title for Scalped Vol. 4 was "My Heroes Have Always Killed Cowboys." The reason for the change was either A) Possible copyright issues, B) Potential for offense, or C) It was just too damn long to fit on the spine. I can't remember which.

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