8.25.10 Reviews

Scalped #40 (DC/Vertigo): Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera offer up an unflinching look at some of the least glamorous parts of society in the second chapter of “Unwanted,” from drug abuse to abortion and poor parenting. There's so much happening at once here, the dual narrative abortions of Gina and Carol, the dual narratives of Dash and Carol both trying to get clean from their drug addictions, Dash using a sweat lodge cold turkey method to fight his withdrawals, a cleansing effort that takes him to the spirit world, while Carol uses a clinic and deals with methadone and its side effects, immersed in the bitter squalor and domestication of Granny Poor Bear’s household. Wade returns for a quick Wade vs. Red Crow philosophical showdown; they're two very different men, but both competing for the loyalties of Gina and Dash. I've long thought that Aaron could drop another revealing bomb and tell us that Red Crow was Dash’s father, but that seems unlikely now. It's almost as if Aaron sensed this suspicion and pushed back on the audience, with the drug abuse shared by the father and son pair of Wade and Dash, and Red Crow’s statement to Wade about the problem with Dash being that he's Wade’s son. It's interesting to see Carol sitting alone in the house at the end, while Dash is sitting alone in the snow. The titular “Unwanted” isn’t just about an aborted pregnancy, but they’re both unwanted individuals flirting with persona non grata status, Wade's presence isn't wanted either, so it seems every character in this arc is "Unwanted" in their own way. What’s astounding is not only that Aaron can keep so many story threads going, so many balls aloft simultaneously, but none of them play boring. They’re all very middling plot points, no big clashes, but he's pushing them all forward systematically, none of them very sexy, but all handled painfully effectively. Jason Aaron introduces them via script, and then R.M. Guera makes us believe and accept them via powerful pencils. This is really graphic storytelling at its finest. Grade A.

Echo #24 (Abstract Studio): As Vijay attempts to dupe and erase proprietary HeNRI files, Dillon attempts an ill-advised pursuit, with Julie and Ivy converging. What makes Echo so special isn't the actual story it tells per se, but the craftsmanship involved with how it is being told. The level of detail Moore is willing to execute in his pursuit of entertainment is becoming the minority in today's marketplace. Julie turns Amazonian in size and strength, Ivy begins regressing emotionally and physically. It's a fun enough idea, but it really shines because of the small details Moore includes that are so convincing. It's small things like Ivy's loose bra or her re-appearing mole; that level of care, detail, and logic are not often seen in more mainstream comics. The quality of the writing continues with the double entendres about what causes the side effects of alloy 618 and the way Ivy cannily plays the HeNRI security staff. Overall, it's just another amazing issue of Echo, but more proof why Moore is a modern master of pencils, a master of ink, a master of realistic dialogue, and my favorite part - the most emotive facial expressions available in comics today. Grade A.


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