Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera set about bringing their tale full circle in "Scalped" #56. A lot of business has gone down in this book and it's a hell of a job to wrangle it into a cohesive whole. Throughout "Scalped," the main journey has been that of Dash Bad Horse. The conclusion of his entire arc is presented in the first two pages of this book simply, eloquently and quite brilliantly. If only things were actually that simple.
"Scalped" is a book of violence, yearning, deceit and discovery. These lessons don't end once you feel they're understood. These are lifelong lessons and the creative team wants us to understand that everything is forthcoming. Every change enacted, every word spoken and every bond extended may have an equal and opposite reaction later in life. Nothing stays buried and no one gets a happy ending. Life ends in death -- that is the absolute.
The gap of time and change in people is a big aspect to draw the reader in while still driving the narrative forward. Scenes and moments are chosen for very specific purposes and each page down means one less page to use before the end. Aaron and Guera mean everything they put down from here on, adding gravity to the words, skulls, kisses and prayers on display.
This has always been a book about men and masculinity. The tale of agents and criminals is over and this coda of a final arc will set the final words in stone: who were the true men and what do they leave behind? The real and final battle between Dash and Red Crow starts here. Both consider themselves men of the highest order and yet it doesn't feel like both will end this tale as they see themselves. Legacies must be forged, debts must be repaid and internal truths must be honored.
As always, Guera brings a nasty poetry to these pages. The realism of each character is what makes their actions more shocking. The sadness etched into each line is what makes this entire book so damn riveting. Guilia Brusco's colors are subdued, easy to understand and completely emotive. This complement to Guera's art is fantastic in painting a complex world filled with the dastardly beasts posing as men.
With this final arc and direction, "Scalped" proves itself as amazing as it's always been. Aaron has crafted a unique and spectacular tale in "Scalped." If he needs to write a dozen other Marvel events and X-books just to bring one of these out a decade, then comics will be the winner in the end. A book like this only comes out so often and it's been given the scope and room to deliver on all counts. "Scalped" is a true miracle arranged each and every month.