From A Library – Scalped: Indian Country

Scalped #1–5 by Jason Aaron & RM Guera

I may be revealing the workings behind the curtains of Clandestine Citadel here, but I don’t always write about the comic books immediately after I’ve read them. Shock, horror, I know, but I’ve never been about being up to date. This is particularly true about books I get from the library, because I read forests of trade paperbacks and prefer to space them out on the blog.

However, in this case, I have to make an exception. Because I just finished reading Scalped: Indian Country and I was blown away. I say just finished reading; I mean I’ve just finished reading it again. It’s that good. There are very few books I’ve read that have made me want to go through it again the instant I finish it, and this is one of them.

One of the first reactions I had was, ‘Damn, why didn’t I start reading this sooner?’ My only excuse was that I didn’t know much about it beforehand, and it wasn’t being talked about it. My curiosity was finally nudged by this post by my taste marker, Johnny Bacardi; that was enough to put it onto the reservation list at the library. When it finally turned up, the date stamp I received was the first in the inside cover. And this is a crying shame …

Scalped is about Dashiell Bad Horse (what a brilliantly cool name), returning back to the ‘rez’ (reservation) in South Dakota he left at the age of 13. He does this by beating heads with his nunchucks, which is a way to make an entrance. A shaved head, several ear rings, tattoos, lean, mean and with an attitude to match, Dash is a great protagonist. He has history; his mother was an activist against the treatment of Native Americans; her former friend has become the tribal leader and chief, a man familiar with violence; and, of course, there is a girl, who is now married but fucking around and with a point to prove.

I don’t want to talk about the details too much because half of visceral thrill of reading this is finding out for yourself. The last page of the first issue is a great page-turner, but nothing compared to the last page of the fifth issue, which you don’t see coming and don’t believe when you see it. Aaron not only got a handle on plot mechanics, characterisation and hard-boiled dialogue, but he also remembers to tell a story in each issue. He has obviously researched this well and uses it to tell a cracking tale. He is helped by RM Guera, an artist whose work I haven’t seen before. His style reminds me of Gerry Finley-Day, from Rogue Trooper in the old days, but more moody and visceral. He can handle the dialogue scenes, the action (a great shootout scene, which bristles with energy) and the slutty sexiness of Carol (who also happens to be the chief’s daughter). This is a perfect combination of writer and artist on noir/modern western that you really should be reading. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to buy some trades and pre-order the next one.

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