Scalped #39


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Scalped #39


  • Words: Jason Aaron
  • Art: R.M. Guera
  • Colors: Giula Brusco
  • Story Title: "Unwanted Part One"
  • Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jul 8, 2010

With Scalped #39, Jason Aaron embarks on a new story arc that may prove to be the darkest yet for the series.  Not only is Scalped #39 the staging ground for new stories, but it serves as an important bridge to the shorter, one-shot or two-issue storylines Aaron has been developing since issue #35.  This is an important issue because it succeeds in synchronizing what have been largely interesting but mostly disconnected stories within the central, overarching thematic device of family and its importance to members of the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation.

As Aaron is apt to do, Scalped #39 opens with an episode from the past that holds a greater significance for characters in the present.  Focusing on the fallout from Carol and Dash's illicit relationship for both characters, Aaron spends a considerable amount of time and energy in seriously developing Carol into a much more viable character than what has previously been portrayed.  Moving away from the solely pathetic junkie-whore image, Aaron instead gives readers a much more complicated portrait of Carol's life, fleshing out in the process causative influences that have shaped her life.  For Carol, the conflict in issue #39 is the question of abortion and Aaron deserves credit here for not merely taking a controversial personal, political, and social topic and minimizing its impact and significance within the comic book medium to increase attention for the series. 

Unfortunately, the same attention and approach to character development is absent largely with Dash as Aaron maintains the degradation of him due to his persistent drug abuse.  Although audiences witness the drug-induced paranoia Dash undergoes as a result of withdrawal, the continued victimization of the character does little to move him forward within the series.  Sympathy for his situation is nearly impossible as readers have been given little in the way of plot elements to support or cheer the character onward, and most of the troubles he encounters are products of his own doing.  As a result, the power of the Carol sequences in character growth is somewhat imbalanced by those focusing on Dash.  Yet, in the end, Aaron falls back on his strengths in the mystery and crime genre by introducing a significant twist in the conclusion that serves nicely to connect Scalped #39 with the Vietnam-era story in the previous issue. 

One consistent attribute for Scalped as a series despite the inevitable and unavoidable highs and lows of plot development has been the amazing covers produced by Jock and the interiors by R.M. Guera.  Although some issues have seen fill-in artists, nothing brings the weight and force of the series to readers like the combination of Guera's designs alongside Aaron's solid scripts.  Aaron is at his best when he is defying convention in both story content and in his presentation of realistic characters.  Scalped #39 is a good example of how he achieves that.

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