It takes some real guts to write noir taking place on a Native American reservation in which you name the protagonist Dashiell Bad Horse. It's an action akin to throwing down a gauntlet, and before doing it you had better be damn sure that the story you're writing can back up such a proclamation. Fortunately Jason Aaron's Scalped succeeds at this task.
The book is Vertigo's latest attempt to distance themselves from the dark fantasies that their name became synonymous with thanks to books like Sandman and Preacher. The imprint has been in a bit of a slump lately, with a number of under performing titles (Testament, Exterminators, and the one I really wished people could start a campaign to save, Crossing Midnight) and its highest profile book, Y the Last Man, reaching its conclusion this week. Scalped is exactly the sort of thing they needed to get out of the doldrums.
Aaron is writing an incredibly bleak crime drama of an FBI agent who's "undercover as himself", or at least as the person who he used to be. The book is about trying to go home again, it's about racial tensions, it's about life in a place where the life expectancy is 15 years lower than the national average, and in only five issues it's had more twists than Vertigo's other ongoing crime masterpiece, 100 Bullets. Jason Aaron has just become my new author to watch.