Scalped Vol. 1: Indian Country
Jason Aaron, R.M. Guerra
$11.99/$9.99 US (Paperback)
**** ½ (out of five)
If you haven’t heard of Jason Aaron yet, you will soon.
Aaron seems destined to become the next great writer for DC Comics’ edgy and endlessly diverse Vertigo line. His recent miniseries, The Other Side (beautifully illustrated by Toronto’s Cameron Stewart) is one of the most refreshing and compelling war comics in years and his new monthly series Scalped is the nastiest new Vertigo series since the award-winning 100 Bullets began in 1999.
Scalped opens with Dashiell “Dash” Bad Horse returning home to the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation 15 years after he ran away as a young teen, only to find things even worse than he remembers.
The poverty rate, along with the drug and alcohol abuse, is off the charts, as is the crime rate, but Dash’s “uncle” Lincoln Red Crow has big plans for how to turn things around for his people (and get filthy rich): opening a $97-million casino.
Red Crow figures he can use a tough-as-nails character like Dash as part of his private army of “Dawg Soldiers” who keep the peace on the reservation (and it’s people under Red Crow’s thumb) but Dash has his own reasons for sticking close to his “uncle” — the kind that’d get him killed if anyone found out.
Thanks to Aaron’s compelling script and visceral dialogue and R.M. Guerra’s ferocious artistic talents, Scalped is set to be Vertigo’s next great epic.
Drawn & Quarterly
$22.95/$19.95 US (Hardcover)
Joe Matt is one of the most pathetic, disgusting and brutally honest creators in comics.
The American, who proudly lived illegally in Canada for 14 years until 2002, spends much of his time obsessing over his pornography collection, acquiring all of the toys he had when he was a boy and pinching every penny to the point that he can’t even enjoy a meal out with his friends.
Then he creates a comic book about all of this behaviour. You know, something like “confessions of a self-indulgent, porn-addicted cheapskate”.
As strange as it sounds, it does make for a compelling read. Matt’s no-holds-barred honesty is a rare glimpse into the mind of a late 30s single man (though hopefully not the average one) who alternately revels in his behaviour and is ashamed of it.
Of particular interest is Matt’s depiction of his longtime friendship with two Canadian comic luminaries: Chester Brown (Louis Riel) and Seth (It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken). The interaction between these three talented creators, or at least Matt’s version of such, is by far the highlight of an otherwise sordid tale.
Joe Matt will be taking part in the Toronto Comics Arts Festival on Aug. 19-20. For more information, check out www.torontocomics.com.
Meltdown: The Definitive Collection
David B. Schwartz, Sean Wang
$15.99 US (Paperback)
The Flare is about to go out — but he’s determined to do so with a bang.
This fire-powered super-hero has just found out his powers are going to either liquefy him or cause him to explode with the power to take out a city.
He tries to stay cool, but he since he knows the end is near, he decides it’s time to get serious about super-villains and makes the switch from hero to vigilante.
But does he have enough time and power to take out his nemesis, Maelstrom, once and for all before he goes? And can he still make peace with the love of his life, the woman he left behind so many years ago?
Meltdown, written by David B. Schwartz and illustrated by Sean Wang, was one of the most impressive mini-series of 2006 and it now has a jam-packed collected edition with not only a great story, but scripts, sketches and much more.
Outsiders: Pay As You Go
Judd Winick, Ron Randall, Scott McDaniel
$17.99/$14.99 US (Paperback)
A hero in jail for a murder is about to become a victim himself.
That is, unless the Outsiders are willing to risk their reputations and their lives to save him.
Jefferson Pierce, a.k.a. Black Lightning, just meant to scare the man he knew was responsible for killing his niece. He didn’t mean for the bolt of lightning to kill him.
But Pierce decides he has to do the right thing and turns himself in. The only problem is that putting a super-hero in jail with super-villains is a death sentence. So he gets a new identity to serve out his time.
Meanwhile, the Outsiders — Arsenal, Nightwing, Grace, Thunder and Shift — find out that not only did Pierce not actually commit the murder, but that his secret is out and there’s a price on his head.
Will the team face the heat of breaking into a federal prison to save Pierce’s life?
Of course they will (it’d be a pretty boring comic if they didn’t) and the repercussions of those actions lead to some dramatic changes for the super-team.
Solid storytelling by Judd Winick and artists Ron Randall and Scott McDaniel.
JSA Presents: Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. Vol. 1
Geoff Johns, Lee Moder, Dan Davis
$21.99/$17.99 US (Paperback)
Sure Superman and Wonder Woman can kick some super-villain tail, but they never had to worry about being called “brace-face” while doing it.
Such are the challenges facing Courtney Whitmore, a.k.a. The Star-Spangled Kid, a regular teen girl facing life in a new town and at a new high school after her mom and step-dad, Pat, move her to Blue Valley, Nebraska.
While unpacking, Courtney opens one of Pat’s boxes and discovers he was boy sidekick Stripesy alongside the original Star-Spangled Kid. Donning a red, white and blue uniform, along with the Kid’s cosmic energy belt, Courtney aims to embarrass her step-dad, but instead finds herself fending off an attack on her school — until the cavalry arrives in the form of a giant suit of robotic armour named S.T.R.I.P.E., piloted by Pat.
As both heroes chafe at their partnership, they try to piece together where the attacks are coming from and how they’re tied into the recent disappearances of a bunch of local teens.
Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. was the first comic book work by acclaimed writer Geoff Johns (Green Lantern, Justice Society Of America) and it displays some of the fine pacing and sharp dialogue that have become hallmarks of his work. In the years since this series was first published, both Courtney, now known as Stargirl with the JSA, and Johns, have gone on to bigger and better things, but seeing how it all began for both of them is a really fun time.
Bomb Queen II: Dirty Bomb
$14.99 US (Paperback)
She rules New Port City with a smile and a lot of explosives —can Bomb Queen ever be dethroned?
This villainous bomb-wielding murderer, both adored and feared by the people of her city, has got an itch to scratch and when she meets a man who fits the bill, she may just get caught with her head under the covers until it’s too late to see the danger he poses.
The sequel to the uproarious and nasty original miniseries, Dirty Bomb shows a more sensitive side to its star with the killer bod — one that could just see her lose her crown.
Creator Jimmie Robinson doesn’t disappoint with this sizzling sophomore effort.
The Chemist #1
Vance LaRoche just got stabbed in the back.
He was supposed to be making the kind of exchange he always makes — reverse-engineered pharmaceuticals for stacks of cash — but the organized crooks he deal with decided his services were no longer required and now he’s lost the drugs and the money and finds himself saddled with the beautiful Alex, the person set up to make the exchange with him.
As he races back home to Montreal with Alex in tow, LaRoche needs to figure out what changed his relationship with his employers and why they want him dead.
And while it’s clear the cops have an eye on him, is there a third party interested in him?
The Chemist, created, written and illustrated by Pixar Studios animator Jay Boose, is top-notch crime-noir and has all the makings of an outstanding series.
Hiding In Time #1
Christopher Long, Ryan Winn
Hiding people who testify against criminals in small-town, U.S.A. isn’t working as well as it used to, so the Witness Protection Program has found a better place to stick them: The past.
But when two witnesses are hunted down in two different time periods and murdered, technician Nathan Crew finds himself ordered to go back to colonial America to save a third person from being gunned down.
Hiding In Time, written by Christopher Long and illustrated by Ryan Winn, has a really intriguing idea behind it and if the payoff is as good as the setup it will be a great new title.
Grant Morrison, Andy Kubert, Jesse Delperdang
Batman is in for one hell of a future.
To mark the rather foreboding Batman issue #666, readers get a glimpse of a future where Damian Wayne is the Dark Knight and only he can stop the rise of a deadly imposter in a bat-suit who claims to be the anti-Christ.
Raised by his nefarious mother Talia al-Ghul and trained by the League of Assassins before joining on to his father’s crusade for justice, Damian is forced to go to extremes no Batman has ever faced before if he hopes to prevent hell on earth.
Oh, but like his father before him, he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve.
Writer extraordinaire Grant Morrison and artists Andy Kubert and Jesse Delperdang really throw their all into this unusual issue and the result is Batman adventure you won’t soon forget.
Black Adam #1 (of 6)
Peter J. Tomasi, Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Norm Rapmund
He may have lost his god-like powers, but Black Adam isn’t about to let a little thing like that stop him.
Spinning out of the weekly series 52 and Countdown, the villain-turned-hero-turned-villain has been reduced to his human form, Teth-Adam, and the word that transforms him into the nigh-unstoppable Black Adam has been lost to him.
His quest to regain his god-hood and to exact further revenge against those responsible for the deaths of his family begins with a savage beating, heats up with gunfire and the Justice Society hot on his tail and goes up yet another notch with an unexpected return.
Black Adam has evolved into a compelling leading character in the DC Universe over the past few years and now he’s got his own series to shine in.
Metal Men #1 (of 8)
The Metal Men are back — but for how long?
Just as this classic team of robotic heroes — Gold, Mercury, Platina, Tin, Iron, Lead and the all-new Copper — get back into action (thanks to their creator, Dr. Will Magnus) they face immediate shut down at the hands of Checkmate, the UN-sanctioned super-hero monitoring organization.
Worse than that, someone is manipulating time to try and see to it that the Metal Men are never even created — and that person’s identity is a shocker!
Writer/artist Duncan Rouleau (The Nightmarist) revitalizes a classic DC super-team with some thrilling action, a juicy mystery, a wink and a smile.
Outsiders: Five Of A Kind — Nightwing/Boomerang #1
Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir, Freddie Williams II
And you think you’ve got a tough boss…?
Batman’s reclaiming leadership of the Outsiders and his first task is putting the current members — Nightwing, Katana, Metamorpho, Thunder, Grace and Captain Boomerang Jr. — through their paces to see if they live up to his lofty standards.
The first test sees Nightwing and Boomer blasting into space to investigate a space station that may have been taken over by the toxic monster, Chemo.
Can they survive this mystery in space long enough to find out which of the duo will make the cut and join Batman’s new team?
The future of the Outsiders begins here.