'Scalped' is year's top series
Posted on Mon, Dec. 28, 2009
'Scalped' is year's top series, & The Rez is history
By JEROME MAIDA
Philadelphia Daily News
It's likely that 2009 will be remembered as the year that comic readers'
appetite for dark characters and even darker stories reached its apex.
Marvel's line was dominated by the "Dark Reign," in which the villains have
basically won and are in control of things. Meanwhile, DC's heroes had to
deal with "Blackest Night," a story line in which nearly all their deceased
friends, foes and loved ones - or at least their corpses - were resurrected
by black-power rings and used as an army against them.
Smaller publishers like Dynamite, Bluewater, Radical and Zenescope saw their
darker titles leading the way to critical and commercial success.
But in a year in which there were more quality titles on shelves than ever,
and in which the sophistication of storytelling reached a new peak on the
majority of them, the choice for Series of the Year was easy to make.
Nothing else comes close to "Scalped."
Writer of the Year Jason Aaron also penned some fine tales featuring
Wolverine and Ghost Rider, but he would have won easily just due to his work
Aaron uses the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation - a.k.a. "The Rez" - as a
unique, fertile ground to tell fresh stories that are unmistakably his own.
He depicts those on "The Rez" as the defiant descendants of a once-proud
people, who have survived more than a century of mistreatment by the
American government, which put Indian tribes on the least desirable pieces
of land and then, to paraphrase one character, forgot about them except when
there was a John Wayne movie to film or a war to fight.
One man who is determined to overcome the odds of living on The Rez and not
only survive but thrive is Chief Red Crow, the crime boss around whom
everything in the book revolves. Seeing what "legitimate" institutions have
done for his people, Red Crow is determined to use his power, money and
influence to open a brand new casino that he bets will not only allow him to
achieve the American Dream, but improve the lives of everyone on "The Rez."
At the beginning of the year, Aaron dedicated single issues to in-your-face
and dark-as-hell character studies of the other major players in his
There's Dash Bad Horse, a kick-ass soldier in the crime family of Red Crow -
who's also an undercover FBI agent assigned to bring Red Crow down. As the
year wore on, a heroin addiction and combustible relationship with Red
Crow's daughter would complicate matters and put him in increasingly
Baylis Earl Nitz is Bad Horse's FBI supervisor - an extremely flawed man on
a bloody quest for vengeance against Red Crow and those he holds responsible
for the decades-old murder of two close colleagues.
Britt "Diesel" Fillenworth is a sociopathic thug obsessed with being
recognized as a real Indian who's in jail for multiple murders - but who's
also Nitz's undercover ace in the hole.
Catcher appears at first to be nothing more than a burned-out, alcoholic
mystic, but we eventually learn that he knows who killed Nitz's colleagues -
as well as Dash's recently deceased mom.
To top it off, we were introduced to a mysterious man of a thousand faces
who has come to Red Crow's reservation to swindle the casino with
card-counting abilities that put "Rain Man" to shame.
Near the end of the year, this explosive set of personalities seemed ready
to blow - and then Red Crow put gasoline on the fire by shooting an unarmed
soldier of rival crime boss Johnny Tongue - who had helped Red Crow finance
As the year drew to a close, a witness to the killing who could also finger
Bad Horse as an FBI agent was being hunted by all parties, and a
bare-knuckle confrontation between Red Crow and Tongue was not going too
well for the Chief.
"Scalped" is the type of book that gets richer with multiple readings. it
has more story in one panel than many comics do in 22 pages. It is one of
the best comic series of all time and easily the Best of 2009.
R. M. Guera's detailed, dusty scenes in "Scalped" were narrowly beaten out
by Steve Pugh, whose incredible illustrations in "Hotwire: Requiem For The
Dead" earned him Artist of the Year.
Hero of the Year: Superman.
Heroine of the Year: Supergirl.
With the line between heroes and villains more gray than ever, it was up to
the Big Red S to once again put the "Super" in superhero.
In order, to prevent a battle between his adopted planet, Earth, and people
from his home planet of Krypton, Superman decides to leave Earth and become
a citizen of New Krypton.
This changes the Man of Steel's station in life dramatically. On Earth, he
was a hero who was one of a kind. On New Krypton, his powers make him one in
While it seemed at first that Superman took a position in the military to
keep an eye on arch-foe General Zod, it soon became apparent that what makes
Superman special are his values more than his powers.
Likewise, Supergirl tried to balance her loyalties to Krypton and Earth,
please her domineering mother, deal with the loss of her father while
hunting down his killer, try to overcome bad press and silly mistakes, all
the while trying to solve the mystery of the new Superwoman's identity.
By overcoming adversity, trying to do the right thing at all times and
succeeding more often than not while establishing herself as the Strongest
Girl on the Planet, Supergirl is Heroine of the Year.
Team of the Year: Green Lantern Corps.
With eight new Lantern Corps to deal with as well as being on the front
lines of the "Blackest Night," no team has had to band together or overcome
more than the Green Lantern Corps, making them the Team of the Year.
Event of the Year: "Blackest Night."
Moment of the Year: Superman realizes that he will be serving under General
Crossover of the Year: "Blackest Night."
Best Single Issue: "Jonah Hex" No. 50.
Best Miniseries: "Battlefields: Dear Billy."
Best Movie Based on a Comic: "Watchmen."