After last issue’s done-in-one look at Officer Falls Down, Jason Aaron and new artist Davide Furno begin a new story arc called “Boudoir Stomp.” You can imagine what kind of love story it is with a title like that and coming from the mind of Jason Aaron. If you’ve never read a Jason Aaron story before (and you’re crazy not to), then think of it this way: it’s savage and twisted and hopeless, but that doesn’t stop anyone from trying. That pretty much encapsulates the world in which these characters live. Stuck on the Rez, they seek escape, but no matter how much they want it — no matter what they’re willing to give up to leave — the Rez drags them back in.
The love story, such as it is, takes place between Dash and Red Crow’s daughter, Carol. We’ve seen Carol a few times before in this series, and she’s been established as a former love of Dash’s, but while he’s gone off into the world and come back, she’s turned into a heroin-addict with no future. Their newly re-energized physical relationship takes up only a couple of pages of this issue, but it feels like half the comic is sex. That’s because their intimacy lingers — it’s their only human connection with anyone, as each of their worlds falls into decay. And the shadows of each of their fathers darkens their hope.
“Boudoir Stomp” begins with a flashback, set 24 years in the past. If the previous arc was about mothers (and it was), then this arc is about fathers. In the flashback, we see young Dash who watches as his father snorts coke and dispenses fatherly advice: “movies is all bullshit” and “You don’t wanna make the same mistakes I done made.” The first comment is in regard to Dash’s request to see a “Star Wars” movie, and his father rants about Hollywood neglecting the truth about the world, the truth about the horror he’s seen on the Rez. But what Aaron does so brilliantly in the scene, is show the father’s reaction to the request instead of the request itself. We never see young Dash eagerly ask his father to take him to the movies. We only see Dash silently soak in the response, just as we see him stoically dealing with the world in the present. Young Dash has only a single line of dialogue in the flashback: “What are you doing?” He reveals his innocence, but also his defiance, and as drawn by Furno, young Dash seems not just to be asking his father. He seems to be judging him. Implying that the innocence of a child is a better measure of what’s right and what’s wrong. Dash, as an adult, is still saddled with that bit of innocence underneath his violent exterior.
Carol’s father, Red Crow, barely appears in this issue — showing up to offer Dash a job working for him — but his impact is tremendous. Not so much in what he says, but in what his relationship with Carol must have become. What Red Crow must have done. For as we find out near the end of the issue, Carol was once in love, and once had a chance to leave, but something happened to her lover and to her child (perhaps unborn). And when Dash and Carol lie in bed together, thinking of all the reasons why they should and should not be together — with juxtaposed captions — Carol thinks, “I’m afraid my father will kill you.” What has Red Crow done? His presumed actions hover and threaten.
Every time I review an issue of “Scalped,” I mention that it’s one of the best comics on the stands. It surely is. It’s complex and subtle and violent and merciless and passionate and resonant. It’s a comic worth reading, every single month.