What if the Punisher was a mob assassin who killed babies? What if he had a son who was in trouble with the mob? What if their last name was Rath? Wouldn't it be cool to have a hard-boiled crime comic called Men of Wrath, since they're both men and their last name is….
I sort of tuned out on this first issue when writer Jason Aaron ripped off one of the more famous lines from Unforgiven. I'm pretty sure Aaron has ripped it off before, for one of his other comics about poor people, probably in the South, behaving badly.
The comic does offer some thoroughly decent art from Ron Garney though. It's not great, because Garney's figures are big and thick and somewhat unbelievable and his action is a little too static, but it's fine.
The comic's generally fine too. It's a waste of time, sure, but generally fine.
Among the Sheep; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, Ron Garney; colorist, Matt Milla; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Icon.
What a surprise ending!
Except for Aaron tacking on the epilogue so as to set up the next arc. Aaron’s giving the illusion of doing something original while really not; with the epilogue on there, he even retroactively makes it predictable. The reader can go back and look for all foreshadowing to the big surprise.
All that foreshadowing is actually in Aaron’s attention to writing. It’s really good writing as far as the narration goes. It’s just not particularly good plotting. Aaron seems to be assuming his readers haven’t read lot of books or read a lot of his books because the narrative devices are similar to ones he’s used in the past.
And while a new arc is starting next issue, Aaron’s shown his hand as far as how manipulative he’s going to write. If the point is the tricks he can play, what’s the point?
Great art though.
Here Was a Man, Conclusion; writer, Jason Aaron; artist and colorist, Jason Latour; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Image Comics.
I’m really hoping Earl isn’t leaving voicemails for his dead wife. I’m sort of hoping he’s leaving them for his dude. If Earl were an old gay guy who kicks ass, it might give Southern Bastards an edge. The series already has an edge, but it’s a predictable edge. I think I said it before–Bastards is prime option material for any actor from the Expendables series.
But it’s also got Latour and he’s bringing enough edge to make up for the rest. The comic is visually unexpected, between Latour’s composition choices and just the way he paces out action scenes. It’s a delight to read. It’s just not a delight to dwell on.
Aaron goes for the cheapest cliffhanger he can–young ally in trouble–and one has to wonder if the comic wouldn’t have read better longer, so the cliffhangers could be less forced.
Still, Latour covers it.
Here Was a Man, Part Three; writer, Jason Aaron; artist and colorist, Jason Latour; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Image Comics.
One of these months, there’s going to be a kick ass issue of Southern Bastards. Maybe next month, maybe the issue after. Because Aaron shows his hand a little here–Bastards is kind of like Rambo V, only in the South. It’s a little like Frank Castle goes country, it’s a little like Gran Torino only an action movie.
This genre–the old badass who just has to stand up and kick ass–is a fun one. Ornery old white guys (these guys always tend to be white guys) kicking ignorant ass is a fun story.
But is there anything original about Bastards? Well, LaTour’s art is pretty original. It doesn’t exactly match Aaron’s traditional comic plotting. But LaTour doesn’t waste time. His style could give way to plodding artistic compositions but he keeps it reined in.
Aaron’s not reinventing the wheel–probably just hoping Tommy Lee Jones’s manager calls–but he rolls it well.
Here Was a Man, Part Two; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, Jason Latour; colorists, Latour and Rico Renzi; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Image Comics.
I’m getting tired of the pilot issue. What about a nice story, instead of something establishing tone or the ground situation or whatever. It’s a strange thing to want something more standard–even a small resolution would be nice–because Jason Aaron has lots of opportunity in Southern Bastards and he doesn’t utilize any of it. Instead, it feels like an adaption of a novel or something. There’s just enough information, but no enthusiasm.
Bastards is Southern exploitation and good exploitation. It shares details with the old Walking Tall movies and it’s definitely got personality. Jason Latour does outstanding work on the art. He brings depth to the setting, depth to the characters. His panic-stricken characters are amazing.
But it’s just an old man action hero story. Aaron has already established that genre for it, already boxed it in. There are lots of those stories these days. Why another?
Here Was a Man, Part One; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, Jason Latour; colorists, Latour and Rico Renzi; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Image Comics.
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 thinks any attention is good enough.
As for Dash? After sixty issues, all I’ve learned is he needs to figure out how to use condoms.
Scalped‘s many failures outweigh its not insignificant successes. Aaron clearly needs firm editorial guidance; he didn’t any on Scalped from Vertigo.
Trail’s End, Conclusion; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, R.M. Guera; colorist, Giulia Brusco; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Mark Doyle and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.
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 nothing to recommend the issue. It’s just the penultimate one. Aaron’s taking advantage of the situation; Scalped has its faithful readers and Aaron knows it.
Aaron apparently misses the irony of Nitz’s incompetence. Had he ever done real detective work, there wouldn’t be a story.
Trail’s End, Part Four; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, R.M. Guera; colorist, Giulia Brusco; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Mark Doyle and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.
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 plots, Aaron always promises resolutions then makes the reader wait for thirty issues. At least the side plots exist on their own with a natural pacing.
I’m very curious–but not particularly hopeful–about what’s going to happen next. Aaron is going for a record on delayed gratification.
Trail’s End, Part Three; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, R.M. Guera; colorist, Giulia Brusco; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Mark Doyle and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.
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? Aaron doesn’t seem to understand noir, which has been one of Scalped‘s problems all along, but he also doesn’t seem to understand point of view. Dash’s internal monologue is nowhere near as impressive as visually well conveyed actions, which Guera provides.
Aaron’s writing just mucks them up.
Trail’s End, Part Two; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, R.M. Guera; colorist, Giulia Brusco; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Mark Doyle and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.
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 am I reading it wrong? He’s just drawing out the reader’s hope Lincoln has him killed? It’s one or the other; I’m guessing the former because the latter would impress me.
Aaron doesn’t write well enough to sell the gimmick. The characters, save Lincoln, are boring.
Trail’s End, Part One; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, R.M. Guera; colorist, Giulia Brusco; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Mark Doyle and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.
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 responsibility for characters and plot has never been Aaron’s strength on Scalped.
Other notable events this issue? None. Aaron subjects the reader to Catcher, even trying to get some sympathy for him. No Falls Down, no fun Nitz stuff. Scalped now seems like it’s gone on too long.
Knuckle Up, Conclusion; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, R.M. Guera; colorist, Giulia Brusco; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Mark Doyle and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.
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 frame, because it’s supposed to mean something. Even with Dino having been around for so long, Aaron’s filling Scalped with contrivances.
Falls Down doesn’t make an appearance and Dash all of a sudden is a lot less amusing.
It’s a poorly paced issue without any redeeming scenes.
Knuckle Up, Part Four of Five; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, R.M. Guera; colorist, Giulia Brusco; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Mark Doyle and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.
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 for this arc.
It helps, once again, Dash can’t talk. It gives Falls Down something extra to do and makes the scenes a lot more amusing than otherwise.
Lincoln doesn’t get much time this issue, which is too bad. Otherwise, the issue’s a very entertaining read.
Knuckle Up, Part Three of Five; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, R.M. Guera; colorist, Giulia Brusco; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Mark Doyle and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.
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 to interpret Lincoln as he or she chooses, which might be Aaron’s smartest writing move ever
There’s a cheap flashback Aaron can’t sell and a scene where he pretends he introduced Shunka’s sexuality earlier in the series, but it’s impossible not to appreciate the comic.
Knuckle Up, Part Two of Five; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, R.M. Guera; colorist, Giulia Brusco; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Mark Doyle and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.