Scalped: Casino Boogie

Scalped #6–11 by Jason Aaron and RM Guéra

Garth Ennis, in his introduction, asks the reader to blog about Scalped – it’s taken me a long time, and I don’t think my post will be of benefit, but I had to say my bit because this book is just really damn good and people should be buying it.

This is the second trade of the ongoing series; the first trade, Indian Country (which hit me between the eyes), collected the first five issues, which came hurtling out of the gate with a blast, grabbing your attention and not letting go. Aaron created a breathtaking and electric story right from the start, with a great central character in Dashiell Bad Horse, a great location in the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and great protagonists in Chief Lincoln Red Crow and FBI Agent Nitz. After the first arc set things up, Aaron takes a little more time to investigate characters in this second arc.

The events of the six issues all take place around the opening night of the Crazy Horse casino; Aaron goes backwards and forwards, looking at what specific characters are doing while the big night ensues, as well as giving us snippets of backstory. The first issue sees events from the perspective of Bad Horse; the second issue is about Red Crow and his history; the third chapter is about Diesel, the white boyfriend of Dash’s mother who thinks he is Indian, and his secrets; the fourth episode is about Catcher, an Indian of Red Crow’s generation, who thinks he is seeing people’s animal totems and having visions; the fifth concerns Dino, a teenage Lakota and his life on the rez; and the final chapter spends time with Dash’s mother, Gina Bad Horse and her connections with Red Crow.

To say this series is multi-faceted would do it an injustice; all the characters are fully fleshed out, the motivations are believable, the details are well researched, and storylines are multi-stranded and absorbing. The reality of the situation – the hardness of life on the rez, the effect of the casino on community, the things people (both Crow and the FBI) do in order to achieve their goals – makes this series stand out and help to make it so captivating. Guéra’s art, gritty and visceral and dynamic, adds to the atmosphere but it is Aaron’s story is the star, and I look forward to seeing how it pans out – so just buy this book already.

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