Vertigo comics has a reputation for putting out some of the best finite ongoing series of the last few decades, and ‘Scalped’ is without doubt a worthy addition this.
It tells the story of Dashiell bad Horse, who returns to the Prairie Rose reservation where he grew up after a long absence. However, unbeknownst to the other inhabitants, he is now working undercover for the FBI, with the aim of bringing down the criminal operations of the reservations chief, Lincoln Red Crow.
An epic crime saga unfolds from there, which has frequently been likened to ‘The Sopranos on an Indian reservation’, high praise indeed, but deserved. ‘Scalped’ rarely went in predictable directions, and didn’t offer and clearly defined ‘good’ or ‘bad’ guys. It gave us an uncompromising and fantastic story, set against the backdrop of a dying culture.
I first heard of writer Jason Aaron via an earlier book of his, a Vietnam War story called ‘The Other Side’, which I bought as it had a glowing recommendation from ‘Y: The Last Man’ writer Brian K. Vaughn. After reading that I was keen to get his next work, this was ‘Scalped’. It wasn’t particularly easy to get into at first, it was relentlessly grim and violent, but after a few issues it grips and rewards you like few other comics. R.M. Guera’s gritty artwork proves to be a perfect match for the material too.
Unfortunately, since ‘Scalped’s debut Jason Aaron has pretty much exclusively written Marvel superheroes, mostly Wolverine, though he did do a good run on ‘Punisher Max’. With ‘Scalped’ ending, I really hope we see more original projects from him, he’s clearly a very talented writer, it looks like we might next year from the sounds of things. If it’s even half as good as ‘Scalped it’ll be well worth reading.
It is better that series like this get to end when their creators want them to, rather than going on for so long they become stale or being prematurely cancelled. ‘Scalped’ stayed true to form till the end. Now I’ve got all 10 volumes, I look forward to reading the whole thing again I one go from the start. As you can probably tell, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.