Monday, 25 December 2017

Scalped: Indian Country

Jason Aaron & R.M. Guéra Scalped: Indian Country (2007)
I wasn't too sure about this one at first, despite a marginally more than passing interest in Native America. Stood in various branches of Half Price flicking through copies on three or four occasions, I couldn't help but notice death, violence, extortion, and at least one meth lab. It seemed like a poor advert for the culture it had chosen to inhabit, the whiskey-soaked offering of another one of those writers who has a keyboard with a specific key set to render the word motherfucker with a single tap so as to save time, and the same whiskey-soaked offering as usual transposed to someone else's misery for the sake of a sales pitch. It made me think of Preacher or any number of Tarantino wanabees.

I succumbed in the end, and I'm glad I did because I was wrong. Scalped may not be sympathetic to Native culture in terms conventionally patronised by new-age Whitey, but neither is it unsympathetic, and it strives to at least convey some of the grinding and distinctly unphotogenic poverty and misery which passes for life on the reservation. I don't know many Natives, but I know a couple, and I gather that Scalped is fairly true to life even with the narrative pinned to a conveniently episodic crime drama falling roughly half way between The Sopranos and The Shield - here referencing television shows for the sake of convenience and because I haven't read any comics which do quite the same thing, and certainly none written by Garth Ennis. Scalped is pretty dark and gritty, but is conducted with a lightness of touch, an elegance you wouldn't experience on a screen with a hole ostentatiously blown in someone's noggin every fifteen minutes - so good that it doesn't need to be made into telly.

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