edited to warn of SPOILERS BETWEEN THE ASTERISKS
ive been looking forward to reading this vertigo series pretty much since i heard about it. from what id read i expected the series to be deal seriously with the disapointment of a disenfranchised native american prodigal returning to his roots only to find the same corruption and hypocrisy in his native culture as he had in the outside world.
instead scalped appears to be a driven revenge story focusing on an anti-hero capable of street-hero level martial arts feats; and after reading the first issue i wouldnt be surprised if, when all is said and done, the whole thing was very reminiscent of high plains drifter.
and to tell the truth, if done well that is a kind of story i very much enjoy from time to time. i likely would have been just as excited if that was the kind of story i had been led to expect.
so whats wrong with it scalped? to put it simply, the first issue doesnt present a single original idea. the entire book feels to me like the creators decided to assemble it scene by scene from comicdom's big book of standard plot devices and rely on the novelty of the modern-day native american setting to disguise that fact. in fact, the plot relies on stock characters and moves from cliche to cliche so relentlessly i feel almost obligated to point out the worst offenses:
-our introduction to the protagonist (name of 'bad horse') sets him up as a martial arts expert when he picks a fight with a group of indian gang members in a bar on the rez. he then proceeds to beat them down - with nunchuks - before finally being taken prisoner and transported to meet the chief
-during our introduction to stock character: corrupt tribal overlord, the chief turns out to be bad horse's 'uncle' red crow. impressed with bad horse's fighting skills, he offers him a job as a tribal cop
-first day on the job bad horse proves to be a loose cannon, ignoring orders and single handedly taking down a militant splinter faction of native american protestors stockpiling an arsenal
-next is our introduction to stock character: peaceful leader of the anti-corrupt tribal overlord protestors. turns out to be his mother. she despises her son for his obedience to the fascist tribal overlord.
-in the aftermath of bad horse reunion with his mother, we are introduced to stock character: worthy adversary. because it just wouldnt be right not to, he announces his entrance into the story by entering into a mexican stand-off with our (anti)hero. (there will be several ways to resolve the conflict between these two without straying into the realm of original thought, but personally i am of the opinion they will eventually beat the hell out of each other before becoming great friends)
-next we meet stock character: love interest with whom our hero had a relationship as a child. predictably molding her to stereotype, the writers haver her purchasing beer and cigarettes and condoms with food stamps. shes also 'uncle' red crow's daughter.
-and the final bit of inanity occurs when federal agents sneak onto the rez by night. probably for no other reason than to rendezvous with bad horse and show the reader that he's actually an fbi special agent in deep cover.
and thats pretty much that. im not the kind of guy to bitch about something being unoriginal and then declare that i want 'the last 2 hours of my life back' like i had just made some kind of shocking and previously unheard witticism, but tbqh scalped really did make feel like i should probably swallow my tongue and choke. instead i wrote this post as a warning, because i know several other geekgrounders are avid readers of vertigo titles and ive already read two very positive reviews on other sites