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Scalped #22

Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2008
By: Erik Norris

Jason Aaron
R.M. Guera, Giulia Brusco (c)
Vertigo / DC
So last month I ended my review for Scalped #21 saying that I was just going to resort to “Just buy Scalped” for all remaining reviews because I can’t take recycling the same sentences in different structures anymore. Well this month’s issue has arrived and when it came down to crunch time, I opted to retract on my previous promise because my editor would probably not find it funny and proceed to rip me limb from limb. EDITOR's NOTE: The preceding supposition is true.

So where do I go from here? How do I express my absolute love for Scalped without using the same stumble-on-my-own-words, puppy-dog love sentences I have in the past? Truth is: I have no idea. Scalped has been one of the most consistent books on the shelves and it’s impossible for me dig deep and find fault when all the parts that make up the whole are so damn good.

When it comes to the overall character arcs of Scalped, Jason Aaron has done a fantastic job since the start with slowly revealing the intricate layers of each of his main cast. Since I just recently started watching The Shield from its start, I've found a lot of similarities with progressive character development between that show and Aaron’s approach in Scalped. He starts by presenting his cast at their most bad-ass, irredeemable, and un-relatable moments and you think to yourself, “What the hell is this?! These guys are crap characters! How am I supposed to care about these jackasses?” Well, as you continue to read, issue by issue, you follow the bread crumbs until the story presents the softer, more human sides to every character. Just when you think someone is 100% irredeemable, they perform an action that gets them on your favorable side and that’s when you’re hooked, the claws are deep, and you’re in for the long, brutal ride. 22 issues in and Aaron has already accomplished the task of making every single character in Scalped their own persona with varying passions, closet skeletons, and at least one quality to which anyone can relate.

Then there’s R.M. Guera’s art which is just as brutal and unforgiving as Aaron’s scripts. It perfectly works off Aaron’s written words to make a comic that nails the needed level of grit. Specifically, the final moments of issue #22 with a flashback to Red Crow’s early years seem especially haunting when paired with Aaron’s cryptic narration. It took a little bit of working into a comfort zone with Guera’s craft but once I was there I began loving every panel on every page. He excels at harnessing the melancholy of the Rez and all the souls trapped inside.

Well, I think I’ve accomplished my task and successfully pulled from the back of my brain some new praise for this series that I didn’t know was there. However, I do find it kind of funny that every month I serenade Scalped with more beautiful words than I’ve ever said to any one living, breathing human being. But, oh well, at least I can trust Scalped to never let me down. So it’s praise well deserved.



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