Monday, November 10, 2008

Quick Picks: Crime Comics
(er...socially conscious graphic novels)

Scalped by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guéra
Most reviewers describe this comic as The Sopranos on an Indian reservation, but it's actually closer to an old, low budget film noir set on a rez. The basic premise is this: undercover FBI agent Dash Bad Horse returns to the reservation he was raised on after having gone to both jail and war in an effort to escape it. The feds have assigned Bad Horse one task -- dig up enough dirt on the tribe's chief, Red Crow, to put him away for life. This is easier said than done, though, as Chief Red Crow is as complex and commanding a foe as Deadwood's Al Swearengen and the aforementioned T. Soprano...combined. Mix in a newly opened casino, a gang of corrupt cops, a trailer park worth of mobile meth labs, and a large, multi-generational cast of sad and seething characters, and motherf**k my aforementioned 'film noir on a rez' summation. Scalped is a monster all its own.

Catwoman by Brubaker, Cooke, etc.
Catwoman mixes 1930's pulp novels with late 60's crime flicks to create a smart, sexy and tragic tale of anti-heroes and anti-heroines. It's the story of recently reformed master criminal, Selina Kyle, and her attempts to live life on the up and up. But just like the ol' cliche says, we may be finished with the past, but the past isn't finished with us. Old foes, friends, and inner demons begin popping up immediately, causing Kyle to question the practicality of living a moral life.
Since finishing his stint on Catwoman, writer Ed Brubaker has gone on to gain mainstream acclaim for 'killing' Captain America and tossing Daredevil into prison. Those stories may have gotten him mentions in Newsweek and Entertainment Weekly, but it's Catwoman that put him in the comic writers' pantheon.
Recommended titles: Volume 1: The Dark End of the Street, Volume 2: Crooked Little Town, and Volume 3: Relentless.