The same day that Neil Gaiman gave us a beautiful opening to his Batman storyline, Jason Aaron also gave us an equally beautiful opening to his latest Scalped storyline, only in Aaron’s case, the beauty came in a much different form than Gaiman’s story, while still extolling the same basic point – the beauty of the told story.
In the High Lonesome (with artwork by regular series artist R.M. Guera), we are introduced to a new character at the Rez, a former high stakes con man who is now resigned to work in the only place where his scams are not known – the Crazy Horse Casino.
Through his thought captions, writer Aaron delivers a wonderful weave of BS and storytelling as the con man moves along with his hollow little existence (Guera shines in his depictions of the various disguises the man uses, making sure they are all dramatically different, yet still the same man).
The way the story progressed, we learn a great deal about the con man (although I don’t believe we get his name) and we especially get to see the way he interacts with people, by basically lying constantly. It is here that the beauty of the story really exists, in the lies that he tells others right to their faces, but eventually, we see that he is even lying to himself (which he does admit to at times).
The story’s progression, though, is not that out of line for Scalped, which is known for its one-off issues spotlighting random characters and giving us deep understanding of peripheral people.
However, the story then takes an abrupt left turn at the end, and suddenly the story is a whole different one than the one you thought you were reading the whole time – suddenly people’s stories are being re-written, by one man who wants to re-write his awful existence while at the same time abruptly messing with other people’s stories.
It’s great stuff by Aaron, as the continuation from story to story is handled so smoothly that it is, well, you know, beautiful.
As an added bonus, the book opens with a quick history of the tribes in the United States (just the highlights from the story, of course), and even here, it is striking how Aaron shows it is all in how you tell the story. The tribe’s people view their story as “Through it all, we’ve perservered” while the con man viewed the story as “You’re still living on the concentration camp the white man devised for you.” This is just one more piece of the story by Aaron, people competing to see which story will be accepted – which will be the “truth” and what will be the “lie.”
I can’t wait to see where Aaron takes this story.
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