Review by Jamie McNeil
Scalped: Deluxe Edition Book 3 gathers the paperback collections, High Lonesome and The Gnawing. High Lonesome is a collection of short stories that all tie in to an overarching plot. The burden of grief and the stress of his double life has caused Dash to make some poor choices. He’s in a bad way when a hustler working the Crazy Horse Casino recognises him. He knows who and what Dash is and blackmails Dash into robbing the casino. Chief Red Crow is not going to be too happy about that. With a psychopathic enforcer for the Hmong Crime family loose on the Rez and bodies piling up, Red Crow is in a dangerous mood. This comes to a head in The Gnawing as Red Crow takes matters into his own hands. Agent Nitz finally has an opportunity to take Red Crow down and sets Dash on task. Dash has his own problems. A rocky love life, dodgy drug dealers, and the maniacal Diesel Fillenworth getting out of jail. He enlists Catcher to help but can you trust a drunken dreamer? Meanwhile, Officer Falls Down tracks down a murderer far more dangerous than he realises.
While Scalped’s creative standard is still very high this is the only book where it dips slightly. That’s no fault of the original creative team. Jason Aaron’s scripting is still excellent. His characters are interesting and complex with an intriguing plot woven through, and the short stories in High Lonesome are all from different perspectives. The lapse is largely due to the number of artists involved. The art is not bad, but it doesn’t quite match R. M. Guéra’s vision. Davide Furnò is far from his series best, but manages some touching scenes of lost innocence. Francesco Francavilla brings an old school pulp feeling to ‘The Ballad of Baylor Earl Nitz’ but not Guéra’s emotional impact. Guéra’s work is outstanding. It’s focused with a hard edge to the violence, gut punching and not for the sensitive. Coupled with Aaron’s scripting there is an undeniable human aspect to this noir tale.
While this is not the artistic best Scalped has to offer, this is five star writing. With Jock’s original cover included and an aesthetically pleasing cover, it’s still an excellent story and great value for money. Rez Blues and You Gotta Sin To Get Saved follow in Scalped: Deluxe Edition Book 4.