Overview

Scalped #38

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Scalped #38

Credits

  • Words: Jason Aaron
  • Art: R.M. Guera
  • Inks: Davide Furno
  • Colors: Giulia Brusco
  • Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: May 26, 2010

Time and again, Jason Aaron has proved himself to be a master storyteller of multi-issue arcs as well as the occasional one-shots, an ability that few possess and even fewer can repeatedly pull off.  Aaron's work on Scalped and his authorship of stories for Marvel should have DC kicking itself for letting someone within their Vertigo flock slip away to the competition.  Nevertheless, Scalped #38 combines Aaron's fascination with the Vietnam War (explored in his Other Side) with his passion for Indian reservation crime noir settings by introducing an entirely new player in the game and exploring character history in an innovative approach.

Coming off the two-part arc that focused on Shunka, Aaron turns again to the one-shot format for a self-contained story that deftly interweaves elements of Indian history alongside American military history through a singular focus on one character who appears to be Dash Bad Horse's father (depending on how you interpret the last page).  The theme of luck permeates this story as Wade relates the fates of family members from his great-great grandfather down to his own father who were involved in military conflicts since the late-nineteenth century.  Calling it a "family tradition" to fight and die for "a country that never gave a damn about us," Wade has several bouts of bizarre luck as he evades land mines, snipers, ambushes, a poisonous snake, and even his own army's mortar rounds.  Reflecting on these episodes while lying in the arms of a Vietnamese prostitute, Wade comes to the conclusion that he must face his destiny.

In most writers' hands, the words "destiny" and "Indians" would inevitably lead to a story woven in pseudo-mysticism, spirit-quests, and talking animals.  Yet, if there is one thing Aaron has done unlike anyone in comics, television, or film, it is how he avoids the trappings of stereotypes for American Indian peoples.  In fact, one could accuse Aaron of creating a new stereotype by repeatedly ignoring his characters' own agency in determining their futures and instead relying on outside forces beyond their control.  Regardless, the portrait of Wade is a sophisticated one as he wrestles with his condition, which is set against the American evacuation of Saigon.

Aaron shows us that Wade obviously has a dark past he is ashamed of as his journey closely mirrors that of Dash, particularly in its interconnections with drugs and federal agents.  Much like Dash in certain moments of introspection, Wade recognizes the power and significance of his heritage and of Indian Country itself.  How the issue ends and what impact that ending will have on Dash, Gina, and others remains to be seen, but Aaron has laid a foundation for a new story arc with this issue that fans will definitely want to see played out. 

While Aaron may be gaining more fame and notoriety for his Marvel superhero work than his creator-owned Vertigo series, Scalped has shown no signs of slowing down.  Together with R.M. Guera, Aaron has constantly delivered strong and passionate stories, and issue #38 continues that tradition.

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