9.14.11 Reviews (Part 2)
Scalped #52 (DC/Vertigo): It certainly feels like Jason Aaron is putting things in motion that will dramatically shut the book down in just 8 issues. I always like seeing glimpses of Dash’s “origin” story as a kid. It’s clear that sometimes Dash might not do the smartest thing, but the beauty of it is that he does what any one of us would probably do in similar circumstances. Scenes like the council meeting with Red Crow keep us on the edge of our seat because he’s so unpredictable, it makes Scalped such a taut crime thriller. Many plotlines begin to crash into each other here, you’ve got the mystery of Red Crow’s end game, Shunka’s second secret being finally revealed, Dash knowing for sure who killed his mom, Dash’s dad’s realization that his son is an FBI Agent, Nitz kicking off what amounts to a back-up plan purely out of exhausted desperation, all while Sheriff Karnow is a living example of what the series is all about. He asks the most basic question about man’s nature. Can he change? Can a man break the cycle of the life that is laid out before him? It’s an exquisite piece of storytelling, the power of which transcends the medium. I’d easily put Scalped up against movies, TV shows, novels, and other comics as one of the most intense and enlightening pieces of pop culture in recent memory. Grade A.
Uncanny X-Force #15 (Marvel): Whew! I was so relieved to see Jerome Opena’s name on the cover. His art is just gorgeous, with large expanses that feel epic in scope. It’s visually stunning, with tight pencils, crisp inks, lush coloring, and it all builds to make this feel like a story that really matters, amid many X-Men stories that honestly don’t. Warren is dominated by Archangel as the “architect of our true future,” he and his cohorts using a life seed to grow a world of their own design. Betsy gets a good quick fight scene, and there’s an extended sequence where Fantomex, Deadpool, and Deathlok take on all of the Horsemen and actually do pretty well. In fact, they kill Death and capture Famine. The banter with this trio and Deathlok is absolutely hilarious. It’s just funny: “The rhythm really is gonna’ get you.” It’s disturbing: “I’m willing to bet he’s a pret-ty fair torturer.” It’s sarcastic, self-aware, and post-modernist: “Too bad. Would have been a real sweet moment between us.” Not only is the action absolutely brutal, but the way Opena stages things, it’s like you can actually hear movement on the page. When they go over that cliff, I heard sound effects in my head, that’s how convincing the pencils are. It’s fun action, strong characterization, and a plot that matters. It’s all you really want from an X-Men book. I’ve said it before and I’ll reiterate – when paired, Remender and Opena make the best X-book currently available, let’s hope that Opena stays present more often than not. This is pretty damn close to getting the “+” also(!), but let’s call it a strong Grade A.
I also picked up;
Sweets: A New Orleans Crime Story (Image Comics): Kody Chamberlain’s crime opus is finally collected and can easily hold it’s own against books like Criminal, 100 Bullets, and other more famous offerings. It goes to show that popularity doesn’t have anything necessarily to do with inherent entertainment or artistic value. If it did, more people would be buzzing about this. Certainly the critics are hip to what Kody is cookin’ but it’d be nice if the general masses were too. Special thanks to Kody for including a couple of pull quotes from me on the TPB, and a shout out to my pals from across the pond at Paradox Comics, who also landed one. It’s cool to be standing side by side with such swell guys on such a bad-ass book. The only two words I have left for Kody Chamberlain and his comics are… what’s next?