Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Review - Scalped Volumes 3 & 4

It took me a while, but I am now officially hooked on Scalped. It is not the most exciting series ever made - in fact, it is quite slow-moving and if I were reading this in the monthly comic format, I think I would be finding it rather boring - but by the time I’d finished the third volume, I knew I would probably be sticking with the series until the end. I know who all the characters are now – thanks partly to the handy character guide at the beginning of Vol.3 – and I really want to know what happens to them. (Warning: the rest of this review will contain spoilers!)

In Vol.3, ‘Dead Mothers’, which reprints Scalped issues 12 to 18, our flawed hero, Dashiell ‘Dash’ Bad Horse, a Native-American FBI agent, working undercover on the Prairie Rose Reservation in South Dakota, finally discovers that his mother, Gina, was killed (and scalped) at the end of Vol.1. However, he is more concerned with helping a young boy whose junkie mother was strangled by another undercover FBI agent, Indian-wannabe Diesel Engine, to avenge her death. This doesn’t go at all well. Meanwhile, reservation chief / crime lord Lincoln Red Crow, the main suspect in the Gina Bad Horse murder, wants to know who really killed his lover-turned-enemy. He also experiences some trouble with his Asian-American business partners, whose representative makes Chief Red Crow look like a saint. Most of the art is by series regular R.M. Guéra and his work is still very good but a bit too murky and occasionally unclear for my tastes. I preferred the art in #12, by John Paul Leon, but that was hardly less murky, and I particularly liked newcomer Davide Furnò’s simple-but-stylish art in #18, which introduced a new character, Officer Franklin Falls Down. Officer Falls Down is the one good cop on the Prairie Rose Tribal Police Force, and is also investigating the Gina Bad Horse murder.

Vol.4, ‘The Gravel in Your Guts’, reprints Scalped issues 19 to 24, and the first two issues in this volume are also illustrated by Davide Furnò. This two-part story focuses on Dash’s destructive relationship with Chief Red Crow’s estranged daughter, Carol. We find out what drove her to drugs, and at the end of the story, Dash makes a bad decision that he will no doubt come to regret. The rest of the volume, illustrated by R.M. Guéra, focuses on Chief Red Crow’s efforts to become a better person, so that Gina Bad Horse’s spirit can find peace, and on a teenage father called Dino, who finds himself sucked into dealing drugs and eventually ends up on the wrong side of Chief Red Crow’s Asian-American business partners.

This is not a series I feel any great desire to own – I got all four of the volumes I have read so far out of my local library – but it is a pretty good series. I do at least want to read it, which is more than I can say for most of the titles currently published (directly or indirectly) by DC Comics, and I have already reserved the next two volumes in the series. Writer Jason Aaron has created some interesting characters, who aren't just good guys and bad guys - Chief Red Crow is not a nice man but he cares deeply about the fate of his people - and while it is not a particularly fast-moving series, if you are prepared to stick with it, you could do a lot worse than checking out Scalped.


  1. See, I knew this'd happen if you kept reading it - you'd make me want to start reading it again! I'm gonna have to pop down the library...

  2. Top Tip: My local library actually only has one or two volumes of Scalped but by going on the Kent Libraries website I can search all the libraries in Kent and get copies of books sent to my local library, and all I have to pay is a 25p reservation fee. On a couple of occasions, I have even asked them if they could buy in books that I wanted to read and, again, all I had to pay was a 25p reservation fee (I should probably do this more often). Your local library may not have any volumes of Scalped in stock, but you can probably do something similar.

    P.S. When I returned these two books last night, I noticed that my local library had the final Ex Machina book in at last, and I also picked up a copy of 'The Other Side' (written by Jason Aaron). Damn library books are stopping me from reading my own unread books!