Scalped 60 (October 2012)

Given Aaron and Guera created Scalped–and it not being a television series–there’s no reason for cast changes. Reading the final issue, seeing who Aaron concentrates on, one would think there were some big cast changes throughout and the need to reorient the finish. But there weren’t. Aaron just has the five characters he’s going to end with and it doesn’t matter they don’t have the resonance to carry the issue. Oh, Lincoln does, of course. He’s got an absolutely amazing finish. Carol’s and Dino’s finishes are both stupid, though at least Aaron spends time with Carol’s. With Dino and Falls Down, Aaron…

Scalped 59 (July 2012)

This issue of Scalped originally cost 2.99. One can watch a collection of John Woo’s Mexican standoffs on the Internet for free. He or she might even be able to watch the finale to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly for free. Of the three choices, the third would have the most artistic value, then the second. The first–this issue of Scalped–offers none. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever thought Aaron was ripping the reader off. Guera’s action art is competent but uninspired and boring. The brief characterizations are weak, Aaron’s page of first person narrations are awful… There’s…

Scalped 58 (June 2012)

The shoot out between Dash and Lincoln is pretty good. It makes up for the hilarious scene where Dash shaves his head to show he’s a tough guy and not the nice boy who’d been shacked up with the American Indian rights girl. Maybe if Vertigo had taken a publishing break with Scalped, Aaron could get away with the head shaving scene. But he just did the jump forward. It’s silly. The stuff with Catcher’s bad, the stuff with Dino’s bad… But that shoot up makes up for them too. Only Falls Down and Nitz have good scenes otherwise. For the main…

Scalped 57 (May 2012)

In its final arc, Scalped feels like a sequel done by adoring fans rather than the original writer. Maybe Aaron’s writing needs to be read on a monthly schedule, not accelerated enough to know when and where he’s pulling a fast one. In other words, Scalped works as a periodical, not a trade. There’s some good stuff this issue with Lincoln and Falls Down. The stuff with Catcher turning into an inhuman killing machine? Really dumb. If he turns out to be an alien or a cyborg from the future in the end, it’d probably work better. As for Dash–or Dash 2.0?…

Scalped 56 (April 2012)

It’s a one year later comic! Wow. So now Aaron is ripping off “Battlestar Galactica,” Millar’s Swamp Thing and Dark Horse’s Aliens to make up for his lack of forethought. Oh, I guess it’s not a year. It’s eight months. Dash has cleaned up and is dating a saint–much to Carol’s disappointment–but Catcher has disappeared, Dino’s apparently a popular little thug and Lincoln’s in jail. While it’s the problem with the comic, one does have to stand back and marvel at Aaron’s unawareness of his own writing. He really does seem to expect reader to identify and like the new Dash. Or…

Scalped 55 (February 2012)

I wasn’t sold on Guera’s handling fight scene between Dash and Shunka, but he won me over. It’s a hard scene, since neither character is particularly likable and Aaron has spent whole issues intentionally making them more unlikable. Reading Scalped is occasionally letting Aaron handle you as the reader. Sometimes the manipulation’s obvious, sometimes not. This issue? Very obvious. As he enters the series’s final issues, Aaron has brought Scalped to an interesting point. There’s nothing in this issue Aaron couldn’t have done in issue fifteen. He’s going to have to make the case for the series being worth the effort. Taking…

Scalped 54 (December 2011)

Eh. Aaron’s stopped with the intricate plotting and now he’s on to resolutions and he apparently doesn’t have any idea how to do those. He tries for sensationalism, whether it’s a riff on Saving Private Ryan or The Godfather Part II and he flops both times. Guera doesn’t help in those occasions either. His visual pacing is awful. And I haven’t even gotten to Nitz and the sheriff. Once again, Aaron asks the reader to believe he’d textured something deeply into Scalped‘s grain. Only this time, without clever plotting, there’s no reason to buy it. Aaron also throws in Dino for a…

Scalped 53 (November 2011)

In writing workshop terms, Aaron doesn’t “earn” the surprise events in this issue. He never put in the work on the characters he’s got going–I always thought Scalped had a finite number of issues planned and Aaron probably would’ve need another ten to properly introduce all these new guys–but damn if it isn’t a lot of fun. Aaron’s not going to produce a great comic book or even a good pulp. He’s gone too far off road with Scalped over the last fifty issues (to the point he’s apparently forgotten distinct character traits, especially about Catcher), but he’s got a fun read…

Scalped 52 (October 2011)

Aaron does get one heck of a surprise ending out of this one. I’m impressed; even with some discreet visual foreshadowing, it’s unexpected. The other big development is Dash’s voice. With his jaw wired shut, he can’t talk. Somehow, making the character mute is the best thing Aaron has ever done for him. It gives Guera something extra to do–making Dash’s reactions non-verbal–but it also makes Aaron’s writing more creative. He should’ve done it at issue four. Otherwise, even with the cliffhanger suggesting otherwise, the issue belongs to Lincoln. Aaron’s not explaining his actions, just letting them play. The reader is left…

Scalped 51 (September 2011)

For the first time ever (I think), Guera has so much action he can’t lay it out properly. The opening scene has Shunka defending Lincoln, but the panels are so tiny, I thought it was Lincoln defending himself until halfway down the next page. Everything’s coming together now, as Aaron starts racing towards Scalped‘s finish–Dash and Falls Down are going after Catcher, Lincoln has found God (but not enough he’s probably still going to have to kill Nitz) and Dino figures in somewhere. Aaron throws so much into the mix, it’s hard to keep up. After the previous issue’s pin-up gallery, I’d…

Scalped 50 (August 2011)

Making it fifty issues in today’s comics industry is no small feat, so I guess one can forgive Aaron and company for just wanting a breather with the fiftieth issue of Scalped. It’s basically a pin-up issue, besides some slightly weak framing content, and there are some great artists on it. Oddly, Brendan McCarthy’s page is the only disappointing one. It’s obvious and tame. Igor Kordey does a few beautiful pages. Steve Dillon’s pin-up page is probably the best. The story, which Guera illustrates, involves a couple white scalp-hunters in the 1800s and Aaron juxtaposes it against how the Natives see the…

Scalped 49 (July 2011)

Aaron abandons Dash. He embraces Lincoln, big shock, but he abandons Dash after a gunfight with Catcher. Why? Because it’s easier. To be fair, Aaron created such a weak character with Dash–and Catcher–there’s nothing much to do with them. The dialogue’s awful between them and it’s unimaginable someone could’ve made it through FBI training and not understood Catcher’s confession. Or fifth grade. Aaron writes Dash like he’s got less than a fifth grade education. But Guera’s gunfight art is outstanding and the sequence is exciting, even if the characters are lame. Falls Down moves through the issue a little, without much to…

Scalped 48 (June 2011)

I’m fairly impressed… Aaron tries for another concept issue and he actually succeeds. It’s a fractured narrative with Dash in the center of it, playing him off Lincoln, Catcher and Nitz, all at different time periods–in fact, it’s unclear where the cliffhanger fits. Some of Aaron’s success with it might have to do with Dash as a character. Forty-eight issues into the series, Aaron knows he can’t possibly have Dash be a decent human being and have anyone believe it. So all he has to do is set up a problem where Dash can still be a twit and make all the…

Scalped 47 (May 2011)

Is Catcher narrating this issue? It’s Dino’s issue, but Aaron doesn’t use him to narrate. Until the Catcher appearance–and Aaron ripping off narration from Ed Brubaker’s Criminal–it’s an okay issue. Dino is in love with Carol, Carol’s still in love with Dash or whatever. Poor Dino’s heart gets broken. Dino crushing on Carol, who’s nearly old enough to be his mom probably, distracts from Aaron making Dino such an unlikable character the last time he showed up in Scalped. I think Dino’s supposed to get sympathy for losing the eye from the reader as well, which is just weak. Once again, Aaron’s…

Scalped 46 (April 2011)

Catcher isn’t a crazy man or a prophet, he’s Hannibal Lector. The other half of the issue is Lawrence–the guy in prison–and his half of the issue is great. Maybe his name’s not Lawrence, but whatever. The guy in prison. Aaron does a great job with him. As for the stuff with Falls Down and Catcher? Well, Aaron certainly seems to enjoy writing about Catcher torturing Falls Down. Maybe enough it’s concerning, And I misspoke a little when I said Catcher is now Hannibal Lector; Aaron’s probably going for more of a “Twin Peaks” vibe. He’s not really accomplishing anything–the issue’s entirely…

Scalped 45 (March 2011)

Maybe I was wrong. I thought I could shake off a bad issue and move along, but I find myself unable to trust Aaron anymore. This issue, starting a new arc, is a little bit of a soft reboot. Dash and Carol aren’t together, Lincoln’s bringing Dash into politics, there’s a bunch of new characters… but then Aaron reminds the reader about Falls Down and Catcher. But instead of being a big revelation, it’s more a reminder Aaron’s terrible about following up on plot threads. Guera’s art is good this issue without being great; he draws Lincoln really well. Lincoln’s about the…

Scalped 44 (February 2011)

If Aaron wanted to jump start Nitz’s storyline, why not just make him a Jedi? It would have been so much better than this issue. The problem with bad Scalped issues is how low they often go. Aaron’s writing this issue is absolute garbage. None of it is good, not the dialogue, certainly not the narration, definitely not the plotting. It’s laughably bad. And Furnò’s guest art isn’t any good either. He’s got a new style and it’s terrible. I’m trying not to give away the idiot plot twist, but it’s clear if Aaron did write an outline of the entire Scalped…

Scalped 43 (January 2011)

As usual, Aaron redeems himself after a bad issue. This time it’s a one shot for the sheriff in White Haven, who made a few appearances giving Dash a hard time. Guesting on the art is Jason Latour, whose frantic, distorted style works perfectly, as Aaron’s story is about a man who can’t properly see himself. There’s a lot about ego and so on–with one great twist with someone trying to really talk to the sheriff… and the sheriff not getting it. Aaron’s able to make the character sympathetic, making him too mean to be pitiable, which is a neat move. The…

Scalped 42 (December 2010)

Holy God, is this issue trite. Aaron’s been trite and obvious before, but never to this degree. The entire issue poses Dash and Carol as tragic, star-crossed lovers. It felt like Aaron had just got done reading Twilight and wanted to homage it with some Scalped fanfic. It doesn’t even feel like the same comic. Though Guera’s art is back on target again. Faces aren’t funny anymore. Aaron opens it with a collective dream sequence, then does his whole split declarative statement first person thoughts thing. He’s done it before and it’s worked occasionally. It belly flops here. Belly flops so hard…

Scalped 41 (October 2010)

Guera’s art is something of a disaster this issue. A managed disaster. Everyone looks off. Men’s faces are too skinny, women’s faces are too full. I was surprised Guera didn’t have any credited help. It really doesn’t look like him, but an impression. As for the rest of the issue… it’s incredibly trite. Wade’s back because Dash hasn’t been looking for Gina’s killer. The guy who has been looking for Gina’s killer–Falls Down–hasn’t been in the comic for about five or six issues, so it’s hard to say where the investigation’s going. Oh, wait, did Catcher kill him too? It ends with…

Scalped 40 (September 2010)

Reading about Dash detoxing is about as interesting as watching paint dry. Oh, Aaron throws him naked into the snow, hallucinating about Heaven, but it’s still no good. Gina’s detox story–Aaron’s big on juxtaposing this arc, like he just got out of an AP literature class–is a lot better. Maybe because Aaron’s actually doing some writing. He’s got a big family conversation going on around Gina. With Dash’s stuff, he just makes Guera do all the work. Actually, if Aaron took the time for metaphors and so on, Dash’s might work. But he doesn’t. What does work–and what shows Aaron decided too…

Scalped 39 (August 2010)

Well, Wade’s back, which is good. Aaron can write Wade. But Wade’s return is the soft cliffhanger. Before his appearance, Aaron deals with Carol’s pregnancy and drug addiction. I’m fairly sure there’s some Lifetime movie out there he ripped off, what with Carol literally burning down her drug den to show she’s changing her ways and all. Aaron uses her to narrate most of the issue. A drug addicted pregnant woman going through withdrawals. He does a terrible, terrible job with that first person narration but he does even worse with the few pages he spends on Dash. Odd how Aaron’s so…

Scalped 38 (July 2010)

Aaron sure does expect a lot from his readers. I was almost through the issue before I remembered Wade is Dash’s dad. I thought it was an unlikely Falls Down flashback. The issue takes place at the end of the Vietnam War, with Wade working the black market and romancing a local girl. It’s the best frost person Aaron has written in Scalped, even better than his occasional Lincoln first persons. It just goes to show the series’s salient problem–Dash is poorly realized character. In one issue, Aaron does a better job realizing Wade than in thirty-some with Dash. The issue is…

Scalped 37 (June 2010)

Aaron’s full of surprises this issue. Two big ones, both lame. He’s doing a classic noir piece, he’s decided, but hasn’t given it much thought. His surprises are predictable, not because he forecasts them, but because everything else in this issue’s predictable so why shouldn’t they be too. It’s a waste of Furnò’s art, especially since Aaron’s got him doing the same scene a few times over with nothing but angle changes. When they do get back to the reservation, and Furnò gets to new visual territory, the issue’s over. About halfway through, I just wanted it to end since I realized…