September 13, 2007

SCALPED = popcorn movie

COMICS:  Shortcomings lives down to its nameWhile Scalped is written with verve and features sublimely gritty art by R. M. Guera, the subject matter—an undercover FBI agent returns to the Oglala Sioux reservation where he grew up and finds extreme violence and criminality—was a turn-off.

This reservation is an actual place that lies on the southern edge of South Dakota, near where I grew up. I’ve been there plenty of times and my family is involved with the tribe there.

So I can only hold Aaron’s stories of gun battles, drug running and corruption against the less stereotypical picture of what’s happening on the “rez.” The truth holds plenty of negatives (alcoholism rates are sky-high), but it’s also absent of firefights and organized crime. More than anything, Scalped is the comic equivalent of an action movie. The story is tense and strenuous, even frightening in places. But the pretensions of serious commentary it carries have all the substance of popcorn.

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