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Scalped vol 3: Dead Mothers

Scalped vol 3: Dead Mothers back

Jason Aaron & R.M. Guera


Page 45 Review by Stephen

Powerful stuff on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation, and the first Vertigo book, I think, to make me cry. Nor is it the strange death of Dashiell Bad Horse's mother, Gina, which hangs over this volume like an enigmatic shroud, challenging Dashiell to allow himself to give a fuck whilst the central villain, Red Crow, is the one devastated by her murder and, unexpectedly, prepared to risk all to find out who did it. We do, however, know who murdered the mother of five young children and it's the reaction of the eldest boy Shelton that got to me, several times.

It also gets to Dashiell who swears blind he will bring the perpetrator to justice until he takes the news to his FBI boss and learns the full and sometimes ugly meaning of the word 'compromise'. Dashiell is undercover, you see, posing as a cop in crooked casino-owner Red Crow's pocket in order to bring him down. What he doesn't know is that there's another FBI agent undercover here, and how much of an utter bastard his boss is. But then Dashiell was by no means the perfect son as you'll learn in flashback. In fact rearing the ungrateful little brat was a particularly thankless task, something brought home to him only too clearly by Shelton's unwavering fidelity, and the realisation that it's now way too late to make amends.

R.M. Guera is fast becoming a favourite illustrator of mine (as opposed to craftsman like Ware or Campbell or Brown). There's no stiffness at all, but fully fleshed-out figures in relentless (but not murky) shadow - even if it's cast at high noon. His mouths are particularly expressive, whether they're old and pursed in barely controlled anger, or young and trembling with barely controlled grief.

As to Aaron, I wasn't sure he could match volume two with its cleverly constructed conceit (single sequence of events, segments of which are only revealed gradually according to each issue's different narrators and what they actually saw or heard), but it's yet another triumph which Garth Ennis is swift to commend to you.
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