Scalped #30 (DC/Vertigo):
Jason Aaron opens with a Cheyenne story for this new arc, The Gnawing: Part 1 of 5, that sets the tone just right. It was great to catch up with Catcher and fun to see Bad Horse throwing around his weight in another county. I loved the surreal vibe as Catcher does his best Yoda/disappearing act/You Are The Chosen One speech, instructing “you’re Dashiell Bad Horse. You’re a drug addict and a Lakota warrior and an undercover agent for the FBI. You’ve been sent here to save us.”
This arc looks to be about all the many things previously put into motion finally starting to come a’ calling. It touches deftly on two or three different story arcs that have preceded it, noting shenanigans with the grifter hustler that came through, Dash's relationship with Carol, Nitz's master plan, the Hmongs, etc. We get a rare look at Johnny Tongue doing a pissed off, Dennis Leary style tirade about prison sex that is hilarious, but also rings true, sounding like the way real people talk when they're all kinds of fired up. And Chief Red Crow fires right back. Heh. 'Nuff said. Nobody is doing this type of layered storytelling that builds with time better. You can feel the tension in every scene; why this hasn’t been optioned for a movie studio or by HBO for an ongoing series is a fucking mystery. Grade A+.
Punisher #7 (Marvel): I somehow missed this during my Diamond peruse, but here it is, the second ish with new artist Tan Eng Huat. The Hood gives ol' Frank Castle a good mindfuck this issue, with promises of erased sins, reunion with his family, and provides spot-on insight into Frank with lines like “you’ll kill because the ‘thing’ is all that’s left.” Mentions of a "186" or "Section 9" provide an authentic buzz to the dialogue. It's a great payoff to see how The Hood has really rattled Frank when he pulls some out of character mean and surly antics with his new partner. The loser villians self-aware observations about New York and “the nerds" winning the social war with the proliferation of computers was also well written. This issue was really full of psychological leanings, be it the true cause of Mirage’s disdain for women, the social pretense of Orwellian actions done in the name of freedom, or the taut G.W. Bridge scene. The only quibble I had is that if SHIELD satellites could truly "read DNA" as suggested, wouldn't they have known some things? Like who was a Skrull during the last big crossover? That Danny Rand filled in for Daredevil? That Clint Barton was masquerading as Ronin? This seems like a pretty big gaffe and something an editor should have caught. That aside, I enjoyed The Human Fly losing it, and this was further evidence that in the hands of a great writer like Remender, you can breathe new life into a bunch of lifeless characters. On board for next issue, which has an intriguing cover tease. Grade A-.
DMZ #43 (DC/Vertigo): Ryan Kelly partners with Brian Wood again, giving us the second ish of this short little run entitled "No Future." This story is full of emotional manipulation as one of many stories that quietly haunts the DMZ. I know I mentioned this last time, but Kelly’s ability to convey emotion, even behind the obscured shroud of a gas mask is impressive and gives a weighty emotional core to what would otherwise be just another brutal action scene in a comic book. I'm curious to see where Wood's going with this arc and how the protagonist will resolve his inner demons. The issue seemed to read really quickly, perhaps due to making room for the sneak peak at Ian Rankin’s Dark Entries (which looks to be a mixed bag of closed room murder and paranormal John Constantine bits). Grade A-.