It was only a matter of time before I decided to write about comic books. You all knew it was coming. I found out about this particular series while doing research for another post. It is called Scalped and it is written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by R.M. Guera. After our discussion of the Red Power Movement and modern Native American issues, I thought it would be interesting to look at a something that is attempting to discuss those issues.
Scalped is published by Vertigo, the “rated M for mature” branch of D.C. Comics. It contains graphic violence, sexual themes, plenty of curse words, and is fully intended for an adult audience. This description of the series is on Vertigo’s website .
“Fifteen years ago, Dashiell “Dash” Bad Horse ran away from a life of abject poverty and utter hopelessness on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation searching for something better. Now he’s come back home armed with nothing but a set of nunchucs, a hell-bent-for-leather attitude and one dark secret, to find nothing much has changed on “The Rez” — short of a glimmering new casino, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime. Is he here to set things right or just get a piece of the action?”
Note: The images after the jump contain language not suited for younger readers.
While some critics have both applauded and criticized Scalped for being “The Sopranos with Native Americans in the leading roles,” I was more interested in how it dealt with the issue of Native American rights and protests. Dash Bad Horse’s mother, Gina, is an activist and there is clearly a tension between Gina, Dash, and other members of the tribe, as to the best way to better life on “the Rez.”
Scalped also deals with the issue of casinos. The chief, Lincoln Red Horse, is constructing a casino facility, but not without opposition. The comic shows proponents of the casino, those who think it will bring money to the tribe and create jobs, and it also shows people protesting it, claiming it is selling out their heritage.
It even gives brief history lesson for those readers who may not be familiar with the Red Power movement in the 1970s. It does not show the protests as a success, but it also doesn’t categorize them as a failure. It gets at the complexity of the issue, with one character saying, “and yet, here we are, still forgotten, still a third world nation in the heart of America.” He is acknowledging that conditions are horrible and they are oppressed, but also that after all his people have been through, they are still here.
If anyone is interested, you can read the first issue (where these images came from) on Vertigo’s website.