Today I bring you a hard hitting, no nonsense, ass kicking title from D.C. Comics’ Vertigo imprint. Vertigo, as described in one of my earlier columns, is where the more mature and, in my opinion, the more creative titles are based. And of all the tiles I have reviewed so far, this is the one most rooted in our own reality. We are going to take a look at Scalped.
The root of Scalped
A little bit of background, Scalped is a crime/western series. Jason Aaron came up with it and R.M. Guera drew it. The series focuses on the Oglala Lakota inhabitants of the fictional Prairie Rose Indian reservation in modern day South Dakota. They wrestle with organized crime, poverty, drug abuse, local politics, alcoholism and preservation of their cultural identity. These are not the easiest topics to read about, but they sure as hell make an interesting read. Jason Aaron was inspired for the plot partly by Native American activist Leonard Peltier. He was arrested for the murder of two FBI agents in a reservation shootout in 1975.
What is it about?
We have the background and we have the setting, what is the first book about? After 15 years of absence Dashiell Bad Horse (one of the coolest fictional names ever) returns to Prairie Rose, or “The Rez” as people lovingly call it. What is shown in the first pages is all the mayhem caused by Dashiell when he instigates fights in a bar. The Tribal Police arrest him and take him to Lincoln Red Crow, President of the Oglala Tribal Council and Sheriff of the Tribal Police. He ‘convinces’ Dashiell to become one of the Tribal Police, because The Rez has too many problems and they need a good enforcer. Dashiell goes on to meet his estranged mother, Gina Bad Horse, a Native American activist who tries to stop Red Crow from building a casino.
And that’s where I will leave it. The end of the book will have a huge spoiler and reveals the rest of the plotlines set out in the next books. As I’ve said before, read it for yourself. There are secrets lurking in The Rez that you want to discover for yourself.
Why you should read it
This series has a special place in my heart. It’s the one (together with Fables) that brought me back to comics. It has shown me the possibilities for this medium. Jason Aaron has created a world rooted in reality that is not pretty, but one that touched my heart. This setting, combined with the very European style of drawing and sometimes very viscera land explicit art work of RM Guera, creates a very grimy and real world. Plus a lot of the themes are very topical. Especially since South Dakota has been in the news again for the treatment of the reservations there. This book will not be for all, you have to love crime fiction and not be squeamish.
Open your heart, open your mind and let’s go to Indian Country. Hoka Hey!