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'Scalped' is year's top series

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  • Rob Schmidt
    http://www.philly.com/dailynews/features/80190417.html?cmpid=15585797 Posted on Mon, Dec. 28, 2009 Scalped is year s top series, & The Rez is history By
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 30, 2009
      http://www.philly.com/dailynews/features/80190417.html?cmpid=15585797

      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
      on "Scalped."

      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
      four-color masterpiece.

      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
      hazardous situations.

      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
      the casino.

      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
      10,000.

      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
      Zod.

      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."

      E-mail comicsguy@...
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