Scalped - issue 35.
'Listening To The Earth Turn.'
Written by Jason Aaron.
Art by Dani Jel Zezelj.
Colour by Giulia Brusco.
Published by Vertigo Comics.
Some comics make you pause. They make you think and they make you savor the moment. Be in the moment where the story dwells still brightly in your mind. Great fiction does this and that is what Scalped issue 35 made me do.
Sat on the train on my daily commute I was forced to dwell on a story. A piece of fiction. Something that someone or some people just plain made up. That is probably the biggest medal that I can plant on the creator's chest. A story so strong that it kicks you in the head and makes you think. Forget the shit of the day and feel the moment transplanted into your own reality. Genuinely, no BS. This is now one of my favourite stories ever. It's up there with Shang-chi, it's up there with Vanth Dreadstar, it's up there with Preacher, it's up there with Dark Knight and Watchmen, it's up there. Really high on that long, long list of great comics.
Simply put it's a love story. But not between two gossip girl good looking idiots. It's between two elderly, poor, desperate and desperately together forever people. Living on the outskirts of the reservation they scrabble about making ends meet. They see the dirt of modern society and are richer for not being a part of it. They lay in bed and hear fighter jets overhead. Swallowing his pride and aware that they don't have enough food to last 'he' takes a drive into town and gets a box of rations aimed at those who cannot / or just plain won't work. He feels the shame but knows what must be done.
Driving home the grey / brown landscape is broken by a billboard for the 'Crazy Horse Casino' and Aaron tells us that this opulence exists elsewhere, in another out of touch room. The writing is so sharp that the lifetime of the couple is encapsulated in all they see and do. It has such great resonance that we feel their life through each movement and act that they take. We know they worry terribly for each other. We know that their deaths cannot be far off. They feel it and so does the reader.
The book is at right angles to the general nature of the series which is often violent and frenetic. And for this reason this is why it works so well.
Like all good love stories it's honest and doesn't pander. Two people who are happy (poor), happy (hungry), happy (sick). They cling to each other because they were always mean't to. They have each other.
The art is perfectly pitched. It's deafening silence suits the piece. It roars with intimacy. It leaves us with the pace it wants to leave us with. Each look and movement is profound. The story has an interesting and unexpected ending which I won't ruin for you.
I was sooo late to the game with this book. I am reading it in trade and loving every single page. I don't want it to end so am rationing it as best I can. Fitting in a way I suppose.