Posted tagged ‘Scalped’

Review: Scalped: the Gnawing

June 3, 2010

I’ve raved about Scalped a few times here and now I’m starting to run out of new ways to praise it.  It’s the best crime comic written today, and quite possibly the best ever.

The Gnawing is the latest tale, in which undercover agent Dash Bad Horse is tasked by Chief Red Crow to find the rat in his organization.  And if that isn’t bad enough Dash also has to attempt to keep a witness to a murder perpetrated by Red Crow alive long enough to testify.  And Red Crow has his own problems after inciting a war with his casino’s financiers.

The ensuing conflict is one of the most brutal stories I’ve ever read.  This is an epic tragedy, with no happy endings.  In fact, the saddest part of the book is the news that a character is pregnant and that the pain and suffering endured by everyone in the story is about to be extended into another generation.  It’s heartbreaking and ingenious writing that somehow made a great book get even better.

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Review: Scalped: High Lonesome

October 30, 2009

Well the cover blub on the latest volume of Scalped (from the Philadelphia Daily News) states that this is “one of the best comics ever created”.  I’m not sure if that’s totally true, but it’s certainly in contention, and actually might be the best crime comic to date.

Jason Aaron is just an incredibly brave writer, crafting a painfully bleak work that lacks even a single sympathetic character.  In High Lonesome he tells a series of 5 interconnected stories revealing both the motivations behind the main cast and the answers to most of the major mysteries that have driven the plot up until now.  

It’s a ballsy movie by Aaron to unmask everything all at once, but it works incredibly well, and it really feels like the right approach for him to have taken.  And even with all that out there, there still seems to be plenty of story to come.  No padding, just plenty more misery to heap upon the residents of the Prarie Rose Reservation.  I can’t wait.

Review: Scalped Vol.4: The Gravel In Your Guts

May 2, 2009

The last time I reviewed a collection of Scalped I said it was on the way to becoming Vertigo’s best book.  The release of vol. 4 clinches that.  Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera are creating the single bleakest piece of noir literature I have ever encountered, and man is it brilliant.

This volume contains two stories.  First up is the two-part Boudoir Stomp, featuring some great guest art from Davide Furno.  This tale explores the downwards spiral of a  relationship between protagonist Dash Bad Horse and his junkie lover Carol.  This is followed up by the title story in which Chief Red Crow declares war on his financial backers while strugling to live a slightly more righteous existence in order to honor the memory of the slain Gina Bad Horse.

Anyone who need proof of just how powerful a medium comics can be need look no further.

Year In Review: Comics

December 13, 2008

I am so close to declaring this a three way tie for the top honors.  This was not a great year for comics over all, but the highlights made for some truly great reading.

1) The Umbrella Academy

I’m going to give the win to Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s stunningly original Umbrella Academy.  The book, which won a ton of awards this year, is just a great example of everything I love in comics.  The book starts with an insane Eiffel Tower and ends with a battle against some who (as Paul O’Brien described them) has the power to play the violin very well.  The story has some great characters, gorgeous art, and a playfullness that shines through on every page.  In short it’s the perfect comic.

2) All-Star Superman

A very close runner-up is Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s take on Superman, which deserves to be the defining take on the icon from here on out.

3) Criminal

Criminal is without a doubt the most well crafted comic on the stands.  Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are both at their creative peaks here, telling a series of interconnected crime tales that they are clearly passionate about.  This is also the one series that absolutely must be read in its single issue form due to the extensive backmater included each month on the history of noir.

4) Scalped

Jason Aaron has proven me right when I named him the top writer to watch.  In the last year he’s made Ghost Rider worth reading for the first time in history, is looking to do the same with Wolverine, and has turned Scalped into Vertigo’s latest must read series.  Scalped is not a plesant book to read, it’s dark, brutal, and depressing as anything, but it’s all the better for that.

5) Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together

Bryan Lee O’Malley may only get one of these books out a year, but the time and effort clearly pays off.  This book is the turning point of the series, where Scott Pilgrim finally decides to put his life in order.  But there’s still plenty of the usual fun to be had.  A book guaranteed to make you smile.

6) Fables

Fables pulled off the gutsiest move in literature all year, simply by continuing.  Since it began the series has been building up to a climactic battle between good and evil, which came to a head in issue 75.  An evil empire has been destroyed, and now the book is actually going to show what comes next.  I’m going to call this the comic to watch for next year.

7) The Incredible Hercules

Who knew Hercules could actually carry his own book?  He’s been brilliantly cast here as a drunken braggart suddenly thrust into being a role model, thanks to the great Amadeus Cho (the 4th smartest person on Earth).  This has rapidly become the most enjoyable book being published by the big two.

8) The Immortal Iron Fist

My favorite comic from the previous year lost it’s entire creative team this year.  Still Matt Fraction and David Aja managed to go out on a high note with the conclusion to the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven.  But without them I had pretty much given the book up for dead.  So I was very surprised to see Duane Swiercynski and Travel Foreman come aboard without a misstep.  Their first arc was promising, their next one looks to potentially be great.

9) Captain America

It’s been a year and a half and Captain America is still dead in what has become one of the few prolonged story arcs in modern superhero comics.  Ed Brubaker has managed to kill and replace a legend and put some life into one of the weaker rogues galleries out there.  For the first time in nearly 30 years, Cap has become meaningful again.

10) Omega the Unknown

Jonathan Lethem writes Steve Gerber’s most experimental creation.  ‘Nuff said.

Review: Scalped Vol.3 Dead Mothers

November 1, 2008

Jason Aaron is rapidly becoming my new favorite comics writer.  He came out of nowhere a little over two years ago with the Other Side, the best war comic of the last 20 years not written by Garth Ennis.  He then went on to write one of the few Wolverine stories in recent years that has been any good, and has recently become the ongoing writer of Ghost Rider of all things.  

And then there’s Scalped, the heir apparent to 100 Bullets as Vertigo’s flagship crime book.  I can’t say much about the latest volume without giving away huge chunks of the plot.  Suffice to say that things get much worse for the book’s protagonist, Dashiell Bad Horse.  As for the quality of the book, it’s as good as ever.  Aaron’s writing feels like a punch in the gut and R.M. Guera’s art (which reminds me of Paul Pope and Richard Corben at times) fits the mood perfectly.  This is rapidly becoming Vertigo’s best book.