Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Scalped #52

Written by Jason Aaron
Art by RM Guera

I recently re-watched the HBO series Deadwood, which was set in the town of the same name during the Gold Rush, and which followed the lives of a variety of historical and fictional characters as they schemed and swindled, until the twin greater evils of American annexation and amalgamation under the aegis of George Hearst forced everyone to begin working together.  While watching it, I thought of Scalped a couple of times.  In many ways, the Deadwood character Al Swearingen, played by Ian McShane, reminds me of Chief Lincoln Red Crow.  Both men are ruthless villains, but they are also both immensely more complex than anyone else in their series, and both of them emerge as the true stars of their series, which it slowly becomes clear, is more about their redemption than anything else.

With this issue's arrival comes the knowledge that Scalped, one of my two favourite monthly comic books, is only going to be around for another eight issues.  It is clear though that Jason Aaron is reaching the climax of his story on his own terms though.  In this issue, Red Crow continues to defy and piss off just about everyone he's worked with, as he continues to shut down the criminal elements that he previously employed on the res.  His fellow councilmen are annoyed, and most importantly, so is Shunka, his bodyguard and aide-de-camp, who is a very dangerous man to cross.

While Red Crow is cleaning up his act, his enemies are coming out of the woodwork to take him down.  Even the joke of a local sheriff puts him on notice, as he himself takes a stab at redemption.  More importantly, FBI agent Nitz is ready to make his move, although it's very unclear whether or not he can count on Dash Bad Horse for support (having your jaw wired shut does interfere with communication).  Dash is more interested in tracking down the man who killed his mother.

Big things are happening in this issue (I'm not going to talk about the last page), and as usual, it's very well balanced and impressive.  I've been unhappy with Jason Aaron's Marvel work of late, as I feel like he's phoning it in compared to the work he's doing on this series.  I feel like I'm really going to enjoy these last eight issues, as almost five years of character work heads towards its pay-off.

No comments: