Friday, May 22, 2015

Flashback Friday: Scalped Finale

This was originally posted on my tumblr on 8/24/2012. Seriously, go read this series. 

Scalped first and last covers
First and final covers.

Comic of the Week - Scalped Finale

A great beginning that grabs you by the eye lids and drags you into the world of the story, putting you face to face with the characters, making your heart pound as if you were in real danger along with them is a wonderful, rare, thing. It takes a master to do that in an instant (see Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga). Keeping you there, page after page, month after month, year after year, living inside the story, growing, failing, falling, rising, agonizing, plotting, hoping with the characters, living through whatever obstacles may come up, never able to predict what’s next, is a whole other matter that few creators can maintain (see Brian K. Vaughn’s Y: The Last Man). But then, to end it in a way that is both satisfying and true to the characters and world that has been established, well, that’s even more rare, particularly in longer stories. Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera, over 5 years of Scalped demonstrated a mastery of storytelling and character development that is unrivalled, culminating in a final issue that tragically resolves everything the only way it could have gone. 
Now that it’s done, I don’t even know how to properly review this issue, to be honest. It’s a perfect ending and one thing that sticks out is that rather than just focusing on wrapping things up, there a few new details that emerge that shed light on some characters and even some that raise new questions. The edges of the story bleed from the frame, making the series a window into a much more complex world than we could have imagined. And considering the complexity of the series, that’s saying a lot. Comparing this to The Wire is about as accurate as it gets. Much like that show, the resolutions here indicate that while things have changed, much remains the same. Things are just too broken to fix and the best you can hope for is a changing of the players in a game that seems to continue to play itself out over and over again with very minor variations. Our hero, if you can call him that, Bad Horse, has learned his life lesson but it literally cost him everything he grew to love. 
Jason Aaron clearly had this story plotted, at least in his head, from beginning to end the whole time. This is not something that was made up as he went along, and  if it was, then he deserves even more credit. Every character is multidimensional, every moment means something, every line of dialogue moves things forward whether it’s the plot or character development. R.M. Guera made every character distinct from their design to the way they act. He also kept the story flowing even in moments where things were meant to be confusing and harrowing. This is visual storytelling on a level so high you forget you’re reading a comic book sometimes. I’ve said before I have a mixed desire to see this made into a TV series one day, because I’d like more people to see this, but the comic book is so perfectly crafted that I’d rather not spoil it with an adaptation. All I can say at this point is that you should pick up the trades of this series if you’ve never read it. I didn’t start reading it until about 2 years ago, but once I was hooked, it became my favorite book. I’ll miss it and I sincerely hope Aaron gives us another creator owned series soon. 

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