2.11.09 Reviews

Scalped #25 (DC/Vertigo): Congratulations to Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera for making it to the quarter century mark, and uhh… this book is so fucking good that I can’t stand it! Aaron gives us a quick history lesson about significant Native American events in the 18th and 19th centuries and then dives right into a new arc. Aaron has taken a lot of flak online about his depiction of Native Americans, in that it only perpetuates negative stereotypes. Here, in a move that begins to counter that argument, we’re given an explanation from the Native American point of view as to why they might stay and endure, and what that means to their system of oppression. I never bought that he was perpetuating stereotypes anyway; to me, the quickest way to shatter a stereotype is to shine a big spotlight of examination on it, and that’s exactly what Aaron has been doing with Scalped every month. As a creator, he’s reached a pinnacle. He entertains. He educates. He’s adding to the rich tapestry of American Culture with this artistic creation and his unique voice. There’s a dual narrative in this issue from the protagonist that runs along with masterful style; it’s a crafty take on the sort of devil and angel on the shoulder motif that we’re all too familiar with. It manifests itself with beautifully vile lines like “I want to fuck you in the ass while your kids are home alone, crying for mommy.” Wow. “Tell me your secrets, whore, so I can steal them.” Double Wow. The duality runs throughout this issue as a theme. The protagonist here seems to think it’s sexy to be a hustler, to use people, when he’s actually the one getting used up by the world. This is a powerhouse issue complete with a surprise twist. It just doesn’t get any better than Scalped. Grade A+.

Batman #686 (DC): Here we have the long awaited initial installment of the “Whatever Happened to The Caped Crusader?” story, in the style of Alan Moore’s infamous “Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow?” from master scribe Neil Gaiman and Kubert brother Andy. Right from jump, it just feels like a Neil Gaiman story, with lines that could be lifted right out of The Dreaming like “I was here at the start of it all, Miss Kyle. I’m not going to miss the end.” It’s very grounded in the DCU, but has a nice ethereal vibe that suits the tone of the ideas at play just fine. As soon as the narration began, I asked myself “is he talking to Death?” and Gaiman sort of begins to answer that question. While the Riddler references to the Adam West TV show are a bit too self-aware and in your face for my taste, the balance of the book is handled quite well. I liked the way the Joker is insulted at the insinuation that he’d randomly kill, since of course, he’d only kill people if it was funny. There are tons of nods to DC continuity and I’m anxiously awaiting Jess Nevins or Tim Callahan or someone to put up their annotations so I can digest the bits I missed. I enjoyed the notion that “Gotham hasn’t looked this way for the last 60 years” (2009 minus 60 = 1939, Batman’s first appearance) and that without Batman being Gotham City, things would just sort of revert back. Selina’s story is interesting, it essentially asks what’s normal, what’s real? One thing I couldn’t quite figure out was Alfred seating certain folks on the right and certain on the left, Kirk Langstrom being allowed specifically to sit on either side. Looking forward to that explanation. Really enjoyed Alfred’s story, which suggests it was all a big act, in the vein of The Truman Show or the Michael Douglas film The Game, in an effort to keep Bruce motivated and sane. Like any good Neil Gaiman story, this tale is as much about the act of storytelling itself, as it is about the ostensible story we’re being told, reminiscent of the issues of the Sandman that dealt with The Endless influence on William Shakespeare. “But what if… somewhere it’s all for real?” Grade A.

I also picked up;

All Star Superman: Volume 2 (DC)

DMZ: Volume 6: Blood in the Game (DC/Vertigo)


At 2:42 PM, Blogger Matt Clark said...

Weirdly the phrase "beautifully vile" popped into my head during the latest issue of Scalped, and that was before I saw it in your review.

A perfect quote for the next TPB then!

At 9:24 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Hey Matt,

That's so strange! I was trying hard to come up with something succinct that captured the sick and twisted reality that he puts down in such a poetic way.

Just when I think Scalped can't get any better, it continues to blow me away all over again!


At 7:44 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

;) Working on it!

At 8:53 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Haha! Good to see you back, my man! Hope all is well.



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