If you’ve never read an issue of Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera’s “Scalped” or if you’re not caught up to #60, I’d advise you return to this review once you’ve completed your own personal “Scalped” experience. It’s worth the endeavor spoiler free.
Not much can be added to the “Scalped” praise that hasn’t already been said. Since it debuted in 2007, “Scalped” is one of the few comics capable of evoking real, visceral emotion from the reader, and because of this it’s always been the first read in my stack each week it came out. Now “Scalped” is over, and while that’s a bummer, we can all hang our emptied pistols on the fact the comics industry has another superb gateway comic for new readers now in the rearview mirror. It finally exists as a completed work.
In a sentence, “Scalped” is a story of good intentions executed poorly and one man’s dark journey of self identity, all taking place in one of the most vile places in America. It’s a story of choices, cause and effect and the damning results of collateral damage. Aaron and Guera hit every point needed in this final chapter, giving closure where the reader craves it, leaving an incessant yet transient sense of satisfaction come the turn of the final page.
Characters enact their most carnal cravings and others pay their dues. People die — some you wish had died sooner, while in their wake are blessings and curses fallen to others based on their past actions.
An element of the story which really stuck with me was the role reversal between Gina and Poor Bear, accurately depicting Aaron’s roller coaster style of “balancing” the sometimes good with the frequently bad. As for the leading men, Dash Bad Horse and Red Crow, Aaron manages to close their tales without much fanfare, but certainly not lacking in meaning or intensity. One man finds what he’s been looking for all this time while the other leaves with nothing.
That’s all I can say on this issue without regurgitating what’s been written about this series for the last five years. It’s worthy of the hype and in the modern era “Scalped” tops my list as a completed work. While reflecting about “Scalped,” I realized it’s responsible for changing my perspective on what a great comic book should be. I love “Preacher,” but “Scalped” is a more accessible boon to the comics industry in today’s market. It will redefine what you think a “good” comic book is and will give you the difficult to attain perspective there are excellent comics beyond the superhero genre.
“Scalped” has blessed the industry with its conclusion now that the complete story is out there and soon to be totally collected in TPB format. It consistently fired on all cylinders and provides a phenomenal gateway comic for new readers or readers who have been away from comics in their adult life.
“Scalped” proves comics don’t need huge teams, bright colors or nifty costume designs to be successful and proves character, truly sequential artwork, an un-confusingly layered story and total dedication from its creators are not lost elements in the modern market place.
With this completed work, Aaron and Guera have done their part at keeping our industry’s heartbeat steady — they’ve blown it away and left an experience in their wake.