Scalped Vol. 1: Indian Country (DC Comics/Vertigo)

scalped-header.jpgA gritty, modern noir story finds itself on an Indian reservation and produces a fresh slant on the genre.

 

128 pgs. FC; $9.99

(W: Jason Aaron; A: R.M. Guéra)

 

 

Scalped Vol. 1: Indian Country takes us to the Prairie Rose Indian reservation in South Dakota for a tale of organized crime and extortion that is the ugly love child of political activism gone sour. Dashiell Bad Horse returns to the reservation for the first time since he was 13 years old as an undercover FBI agent. Bad Horse’s mission is to infiltrate Lincoln Red Crow’s mob and help the FBI close a case against him that has been going on for over 30 years. The tricky part is that Red Crow is now the reservation’s chief, and therefore the law, so Bad Horse must bare-knuckle fight his way into become a reservation sheriff for Red Crow. Add in Bad Horse’s childhood sweetheart Carol, who is now the queen hussy of the town, and his estranged mother, Gina, who goes way back with Red Crow, and you get a welcome home party that no one wanted.

 

The cover to Scalped Vol. 1 by Jock. Click thumbnail for a larger image.Scalped drips with style. R.M. Guéra’s artwork is dirty and ugl,y which is exactly the way it needs to be to show the story. Guéra uses lots of browns, reds, and other earth tones to put you right on the reservation. The dirty look is more than a physical effect. It symbolizes the realities of life on a decrepit, crime-ridden Indian reservation. The art style is very reminiscent of the movie Domino in both look and feel.

 

With Scalped, writer Jason Aaron has accomplished much in taking crime noir in a new, fresh direction. He bypasses the paper thin, "plot device" characters that are typical in many noir stories and replaces them with characters that are well established and have history that ties them together. Through many flashbacks, we learn that Red Crow and Gina were once idealistic political activists, fighting for Native American rights in the mid-1970s. Through a series of mistakes, they lost their way, leading to Red Crow becoming a crime boss and Gina being matron to a new generation of activists, who to her dismay are really nothing more than terrorists. Carol is a damsel in distress who in actuality makes you sick, but you know you can’t turn away from her. And Dashiell Bad Horse is a hero that may have more emotional problems and pent up rage than the criminal scum he has been charged to take down.

 

Scalped very much earns it’s "Suggested For Mature Readers" rating. With the book being filled with violence, adult language, nudity, and sex, you certainly would not want this book laying out for your kids or younger siblings to find. However, unlike many books that use profanity or nudity just to sell more books, Scalped actually uses these elements in a way that is realistic to the nature of the story and contributes to building depth to the characters and environment.

 

Scalped may not be the only crime noir book vying for your attention this year, but it is one you should definitely read. It is different and original enough to satisfy even the most seasoned crime reader yet stylish and well paced for the new or casual reader. Volume 2 can’t get here soon enough. | Ryan Parker

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