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Scalped #21

Posted: Friday, September 19, 2008
By: Erik Norris

Jason Aaron
R.M. Guera, Giulia Brusco (c)
Vertigo / DC
“Steady as She Goes” was the song in my head when I finished up this month’s issue of Scalped by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera. While there isn’t anything so shocking that the entire direction of the series will shift, Scalped #21 does continue to unveil the hopeless redemption of Chief Red Crow.

I think what is most memorable about this issue is the setup which Jason Aaron uses to hook readers into this new story arc, “The Gravel in You Guts.” The issue starts three weeks into the future where we see Chief Red Crow apologize to a ceremonial bag sitting in his car then proceeds to enter a café and seemingly kill four unknown individuals (only speculation as you only “hear” 4 gun shots). After this introduction we pop back to present day and continue moving forward in time, barreling towards the known future. What I’m getting at is that by the time you reach the end of this issue and find out what was in the bag from the book’s opening you understand the unfortunate contradiction of Chief Red Crow. A man who knows nothing but using brute force to rise to the top and make the world right for himself is now tasked with carrying the burden of Gina Bad Horse’s soul which can only be purified through an abstention from violence for a solid year.

If the issue traveled in the standard forward motion narrative structure the idea of Gina’s soul in a sack wouldn’t have had as big an emotional impact on the overall issue when looking back in hindsight. I think that was a great choice by Aaron to fast forward and then reverse back and slowly peel back layers to the eventual reveal.

We also have R.M. Guera back on art duties this month which makes me a happy customer. While I was getting use to Davide Furno’s work over the past few months (which was great, mind you), Guera has been around since the inception of this series and it’s his baby as much as it is Aaron’s. He is responsible for the memorable look of all these characters and having him back is like slipping your feet into an old pair of shoes. It just fits perfectly.

The tension to Scalped continues to rise yet keeps everything at a cool simmer just waiting for the eventual eruption. I’ve been the reviewer of Scalped for some five months running, maybe even more, and I continue to praise this series month in and out. It’s almost making me look bad because I keep recycling the same sentences with different structures. Just buy Scalped. You know what, next month that might just be my entire review.



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