8.22.12 Reviews

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Scalped #60 (DC/Vertigo): If you’ve been riding shotgun with me this long after reviewing every single issue of Scalped, then what the hell is there left for me to say? The “Flaming Mexican Standoff” comes to a conclusion, Red Crow popping Catcher, Dash clipping Red Crow, Dash only finishing off Catcher in a righteous fury dream before Nitz does it for him and seals his own fate in the process. Everyone turns out in this finale, from Carol to Granny Poor Bear, RM Guera depicts them all in his visceral murky glory. Catcher’s line about being a prophet or murderer underscores the remorseful resignation of the entire tone, driving home the realization that our most dangerous demon is the ability to justify our own actions, no matter what they are. By the end, everyone ends up in a new place, perhaps where they best belong. It’s “a place for the runaways and the utterly immovable, for the stubborn and the bold, for the survivors and the damned, the full blooded and the bled dry, the stone cold.” Fuckin’ A, nobody writes like that! It’s like Jason Aaron has gone and saved his most representative bit of prose until the very end; this last monologue by Dash is like some bastard son of Hemmingway and Cormac McCarthy or Dashiell Hammett. Instead of trying to find something new to say to sing it’s praises, let me think back on Scalped. There was a time when Vertigo had a perfect trifecta of titles in DMZ, Scalped, and Northlanders. That time has now come and gone. I doubt they’ll ever be that strong again. It’s the end of an era for the imprint. I’m also a little disturbed at the pattern forming, that DC is able to somehow push away their best writers so that Marvel or other publishers snatch them up. If some executive at HBO isn’t working day and night to bring Scalped to their line-up, well, that’s just fucking stupid. After The Sopranos and Deadwood and Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, it’s just fucking ridiculous that Scalped isn’t the next premium hit on TV. It’s perfect. I don’t use the “perfect” word often, but Aaron’s dialogue was always perfect. It’s strong and memorable, but not with the flowery sake of itself tang that Tarantino has. It’s rhythmic and realistic, but not in the overly staged and contrived way that Sorkin or Mamet is. It’s realistic in a way that you just feel in your guts. I don’t remember an issue where Aaron poured so much of himself into the words, like Catcher's lines about wanting to be a writer, about wanting to create when he’s surrounded by nothing but a culture of destruction. There isn’t another book that has such a palpable sense of unexpected danger lurking behind every page. There are few pieces of art in pop culture that have the ability to transcend their genre, to transcend their origin, and offer something more about a segment of society. It’s things like The Godfather and Glengarry Glen Ross and the commentary they told about the collapse of The American Dream. Scalped enters that pantheon. It was a book that was on my best of the year list every single year that it existed, and this year will be no different. Thank you for one of the classics. If you’re into comics and you haven’t read, or are not at least seriously planning to read Scalped, I just don’t think we can be friends anymore. Grade A+.


At 11:58 PM, Blogger Matt C said...

Excellent review, Justin. You've hit the nail square on the head. I couldn't (and won't) say it better myself.

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Justin said...

Thanks, Matt! I know we'll all sorely miss Scalped, but I'm trying to just be thankful we got it in the first place!


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