Scalped 60 (October 2012)

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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.

CREDITS

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.

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Scalped 59 (July 2012)

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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.

CREDITS

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.


Contemporaneously…

Scalped 58 (June 2012)

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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.

CREDITS

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.


Contemporaneously…

Scalped 57 (May 2012)

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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.

CREDITS

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.


Contemporaneously…

Scalped 56 (April 2012)

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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.

CREDITS

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.


Contemporaneously…

Scalped 55 (February 2012)

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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.

CREDITS

Knuckle Up, Conclusion; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, R.M. Guera; colorist, Giulia Brusco; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Mark Doyle and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.


Contemporaneously…

Scalped 54 (December 2011)

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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.

CREDITS

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.


Contemporaneously…

Scalped 53 (November 2011)

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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.

CREDITS

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.


Contemporaneously…

Scalped 52 (October 2011)

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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.

CREDITS

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.


Contemporaneously…

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