Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Scalped Book 7: Rez Blues (#35-42) PART TWO

"I'll goddamn will stay dead. Rest in peace, bitch" - Carol

Time for the second half of volume seven, which is all one arc called "Unwanted".  This story focuses mainly on Carol, the estranged daughter of Red Crow and her dealing with the revelation she is pregnant which closed out volume six.  This story deals with the issues of abortion in an upfront and honest pro-choice matter so if that offends don't read on.   Carol was pregnant in the past, but she was shot in the stomach when her boyfriend stole drugs from her father and tried to make a getaway from the rez with her resulting in his death and her losing the baby.  She developed a burning hatred of her father after this and got herself a very heavy drug habit which she passed onto Dashiell Bad Horse when they were sleeping together, but she knows he's an FBI agent now and has thrown him out.  Both of them facing up to kicking the habit is another part of the story as Dash is suffering extreme guilt over his utterly brutal torture and murder of Diesel in volume six and has gone on an epic drugs bender. Anyway, let's continue with this powerful story of two very lost souls having both finally hit rock bottom and how they both start climbing back up towards the light.

We start many years ago, a woman called Claudine is at the abortion clinic desperate for an abortion, right now, now.  She says she has to have it done before "he" finds out. 

Claudine: "I can't bring his child into the world.  Oh god, I can't do it.  Please don't make me."

But it's too late, and Red Crow comes striding into the clinic, he picks her up and slings her over his shoulder and takes her out and drives away with her.
Red Crow's direct approach.
Out on the road he says he can't believe she was going to kill their child.  She says she's not afraid of him she's afraid of it.  She says she knows he doesn't love her and won't be around much longer and she can't raise a kid on her own, "especially not the breed of one you and I are bound to have."  

He says he does love her and he's done with the Dog Soldiers, he promises he won't go away. The cops force them to stop and Red Crow is arrested as he is dragged off he promises her a nice place in twn and she can quit her job. If it's a boy they'll call it "Winston" after his grandfather and if it's a girl she can pick the name.  "Carol" she says to herself, "I've always liked Carol."
Carol, having a bath of angst.
We then cut to the present.  Carol is curled up in the bath, still in her clothes and crying.  She remembers being pregnant before and what happened.  That for a while after she got better she tried a lot to get pregnant again.  She would have given anything to have a baby and got back what she felt she'd lost, "but now... now it's a different story."

Someone knocks on the bathroom door and she yells for them to fuck off.  But Granny Poor Bear says she can't do that.   Carol doesn't know who she is and Granny Poor Bear introduces herself, "I'm Agnes Poor Bear.  Most folks call me Granny".  The hospital sent her in an unofficial capacity, she knows she pregnant and knows she's got a heroin addiction and she can help her with both.  If Carol turns her away the hospital will bring in the tribal poice and then "you-know who is bound to find out.  And I'm guessing you don't want that."

Granny says she'll have to go on methadone and the baby will be born addicted but can be weaned off it.  Carol says she assumes she wants the kid to live.   Granny says Carol has a lot to think about and not much time to do it:

Granny: "They call me Granny, but I ain't never had kids of my own.  I couldn't.  Instead I spent my whole life raisin' ones had by other folks.  I don't regret it.  And I love 'em all like they was my own.  But at the end of the day theu ain't.  It's a gift havin' a baby.  You get the chance, you don't want to throw it away. 'Cause it may not come again."

When Carol makes up her mind she should come and find her.  She picks up Carol's drug paraphenalia as she tells her even if she doesn't want the baby, the way she is living is no life at all and she tosses the stuff into the water and leaves.  Carol curls up even tighter and thinks how she's never wanted to get so high in her life before.
Granny Poor Bear tells it like it is.
We then join Dash, frantically searching his room for the drugs he thinks he has stashed around the place.   He is ignoring Nitz who has been calling him for the past two days:

Dash: "Can't close my eyes without seeing Diesel. And me shooting him over and over and over and over..."

But Diesel deserved it and Red Crow is setting him up but fuck them all he fooled them all, did he?  He won, so what now?  His face is contorted in distress as his thoughts get increasingly disordered.

Shunka then kicks his door down.  He wants Dash to come with him but Dash refuses.  They square up and Dash throws a punch that Shunka easily dodges.  He smashes an elbow into Dash's face knocking him down then he kicks him hard in the face as Dash crashes through the table.  Dash picks up a broken bottle and Shunka grins saying "I was hoping you'd do that".  He slashes Dash with his knife then crunches his foot into the side of Dash's knee.

With Dash grounded, Shunka holds the knife to his face and says he knows Dash is a liar and maybe he should cut out his liar's tongue.  Red Crow comes in before he can get too vicious with Dash and Red Crow contemplates Dash curled up on the floor and says to get him cleaned up and dressed, he's coming with them.
Dash hits a new low even for him.
We're back in the past.  A young Carol is sleeping in bad and her mother Claudine is writing her a letter apologising for the fact she is running away from her and Red Crow.  She writes that maybe one day Carol will understand it's not Carol's fault, some women just aren't cut out to be mothers  She wants Carol to grow up and not make the same mistakes she did.  She leaves the letter in Carol's hand and slips away forever.

Back in the present we see Carol reading the letter and she says her mother was a "fucking coward".  Some days she doesn't know who she hates more, her mother, her father or herself.  Someone needs to die today, someone she hates.  It can't be her mother or father, so that only leaves herself.

She's tried to kill herself before with pills but was found in time.  We see her pouring petrol on the floor of her home.  She thinks how she's never tried to die like this.  And she lights her mother's letter to her and tosses it on the fuel.  She stands outside with a couple of bags of belongings and watches her house burn.  Then she goes to the Poor Bear's house and Granny lets her in saying supper is almost ready.
Carol bids her old life and self farewell.
A bus arrives on the rez and a man gets off.  He goes to the casino and orders a drink.  He comments that legal booze on the rez is a big change since he was last here to the barman.  Then he asks if he knows Dashiell Bad Horse?  The barman says Dash isn't the most social of fellows, and it's not recommended to find him unless he wants you two.  The man says "Oh don't worry, he'll wanna see me... a boy always wants to see his father."  And it's Wade.

We're back in the past and in an abortion clinic but this time it's Gina Bad Horse and she's just had one. She leaves looking sad and outside is Wade with young Dash.  She tells him to get out, he can get a ride of his own and collect his stuff she'll leave it outside the house.  He starts yelling how she's blaming him for everything, and that she has no idea how to raise a kid.  She'll wind up running out of use for Dash, maybe she already has.  She just tells Dash to say goodbye to Wade and she and Dash drive off as she sheds tears.

Then we're back in the present, Dash is in a sweatlodge, naked with hands cuffed together going through terrible withdrawal symptoms.   He screams and begs for help while the medicine man ignores him and we see Shunka sitting outside and they are pretty far away from town.
Dash's brutal detox.
Carol is at the hospital being given her daily dose of methadone.  She'll have to come back every day for it they don't do take home doses.   Back at the Poor Bears where she is living she lies in bed and looks at the ultrasound picture in anguish and Granny silently observes her.

At the casino Red Crow comes to see Wade.  He asks what the hell he's doing on his rez as Wade toasts him.  Wade says it's not Red Crow's rez it's Lakota's land. Red Crow threatens him with bodily harm if he doesn't tell him why he's here.  Wade says he's here to see his son.  Red Crow says it's more like he heard Gina was dead and might have left him behind something of value.

Wade says it still eats at Red Crow that Gina chose him and not Red Crow doesn't it?  Red Crow says that was a long time ago and he knows Gina had plenty of regrets from that time. And Wade was certainly one of them.  "Did you kill her?" Wade asks him flatly.   He knows she was a thorn in his side so he'll understand if he did it.  Red Crow says Wade didn't know Gina as well as he thought he did and he doesn't know Red Crow at all.  The investigation into her death is on-going so he can "go the fuck back to wherever you came from and wait there to die."
Tension between Red Crow and Wade.
As he walks away he says of he really cared about Dash he should stay the hell away from him especially now.  "He's not your son, Red Crow.  He never will be" replies Wade.  The fact he's Wade's is the problem retorts Red Crow and we return to Dash in the sweatlodge.  There is vomit everywhere, and he starts seeing spiders crawling out of the sick and onto him.  He bursts out of the tent still cuffed and naked and runs away through the heavy snow.  Shunka just shrugs and says to the medicine man, "fuck it.  Let him go."

At the Poor Bear's place, the family are having a meal cooked by Granny.  Dino is sat feeding his little girl Angie while various aunts and uncles tuck in.  Carol comes in and there is a lot of bustle as Dino says he's going into town as various people ask him to get stuff for them.   Everyone bustles away to fetch money and help get the truck ready for the snow leaving Carol sitting at the table with just Dino's retarded brother for company.  He asks if she's having a baby then laughs and runs off and she sits alone at the table thinking.

Dash walks through the snow and starts hallucinating.  He finds a Lakota campsite with tee-pees and he has a blanket put over him and is given a hot drink.  Then Gina appears and scowls saying he can't be here.  She says she tried to tell him and he didn't listen.  She kicks him saying "go!  Get out!  We don't want you here after what you did!"  She tells him to never come back.  He shouts back that he was always on his own and they can all go to fucking hell.  The vison fades and he stumbles off.  The final shot of the chapter is Dash, curled up on Gina's grave, busy freezing to death.
Dash, once again drawn to his mum's grave.
Back in the past, Claudine is heavily pregnant and is smoking watching Red Crow drive off.  One of her eyes is swollen and puffy.   She then flings herself on the ground. She gets up and pleads with the baby inside her to stop moving.  She grabs a wire coathanger and is about to attempt an abortion but then she tosses it away and yells "why won't you just die?"

In the present Red Crow contemplates the burnt out husk of Carol's house.  He asks Shunka where she is and he says he's working on finding her.  Red Crow tells him not to fuck it up like he did with Dash.  Speaking of him, he's in hospital being treated for frostbite.  Wade had come to visit Gina's grave and found Dash there, maybe it was her way of looking out for him.

Wade: "Everybody was a little curious about how come you was running around in the snow naked and handcuffed and what all. But then Red Crow come by and people stopped wondering.  You in some kinda trouble with him, son?  If you are you should tell me.  Maybe I can help."

Dash snarls at him to get the fuck out.  Wade says he's being a bit ungrateful but Dash just wants him gone.  As the nurse tells Wade he has to go if Dash doesn't want to see him, he protests then walks away as Dash shouts after him to "go straight to fucking hell for all I care!"

At the Poor Bear's, Dino is putting Angie to bed.  Watching him is Carol who says he's a good dad. Dino says he doesn't know what the hell he's doing.  Carol says it's obvious Angie loves him.  Dino says she doesn't know any better, he could be the shittiest father in the world and she wouldn't know.  "Trust me... kids can tell the difference" says Carol.

Dino tells her that after he got his girlfriend pregnant, they were going to get an abortion.  But when Granny found out she said she'd raise the kid and they wouldn't have to do anything they didn't want to. He says most days he's glad Granny talked them into keeping it, he can't imagine life without his daughter.  But some days he imagines just picking up, forgetting about her and just leaving like her mother did.  But if he sticks around and tries that's still better than never trying at all.
Carol has a decision to make.
Carol gets sniffily.  She shows Dino a cigarette saying she's had it a week and hasn't been able to bring herself to light it.   But now she's going to go outside and try again.  Standing looking at the Poor Bear's house is Red Crow and Shunka.  Shunka asks if Red Crow wants him to go in and get her.  Red Crow says to leave her be.  Then he says to Shunka to never have kids.  And they walk away.  Carol was hiding behind a wall and having heard that silently starts crying.

A short while later Dash is out of the hospital.  Wade is waiting for him though Dash still wants him to get the fuck away from him or he'll beat his ass.  Wade says he's livelier now than the quiet kid he remembers.  Dash asks what he wants.  Wade says he's not here to make amends or ask forgiveness.  He's here because he cares about Gina.  He came to pay his respects to her and to find out who killed her.

Dash is surprised by this, Wade goes on to say Dash can't trust Red Crow.  Dash says he doesn't need advice.  Wade says they are Gina's kin, it's up to them to get justice for her.  He asks Dash what he knows.  Dash is silent. Wade asks if he's done anything to find his mother's killer? "It's been a busy fucking year" says Dash.

Wade says he's heard and thinks he and Dash have a few things in common.  Dash says "I'm nothing like you."  Wade says he might not want to admit it but he has the same weaknesses, same holes inside that need plugging up.  He's got a temper that's lost him more fights than he's won. Dash says that's enough, but Wade goes onto say Dash has a longing inside that's made him roam and to dare god to put him out of his misery over and over. If he's like Wade he's also done a lot of running, from things he's got no right to be proud of, from the rez, from everything.  But here they are.

Wade carries on saying Gina broke them apart but now she's brought them back together.  He doesn't want a hug or love anything like that, "but you got to help me. For her."  He loved her and never should have left the both of them.  But he can find her killer and he needs Dash's help for that.  Dash finally speaks, telling him to come to Gina's house where he lives now.
Trust is not easily given by Dash.
He tells Wade to come around tommorrow afternoon and they'll talk.  But "don't expect no tearful fucking reunions".  And Wade has to stop calling him "son". Wade asks if he wants to grab a beer but Dash walks off telling him not to push his fucking luck.  Then he goes to see Carol but finds her burnt out abandoned house.  Carol is at the casino asking after Dash. That night they end up driving past each other and stop, get out and silently approach each other.

We get a fantasy of Carol's.  She is clean and happy and playing with a baby girl.  A smiling Dash comes in, kisses her and cuddles his kid as they laugh together.  Carol wakes from this fantasy being shaken awake by Dash as they lie on a mattress together surrounded by rubbish.  He lights up some heroin and she smokes it too.
A final meeting.
After that flashback we return to them standing in the snow looking at each other in silence.  They make awkward small talk as their thoughts go back and forth.  He thinks about how he regrets hitting her, while she thinks about how she can't forgive herself for dragging him down with her and that she's pregnant with his child.

He thinks that coming back to the rez was a mistake, he just spreads misery.  Carol thinks she'd be dead if it wasn't for him and this baby.  It's saved her.   She speaks telling him she'll never tell anyone about him being in the FBI.  He thinks he put her life in danger telling her.  She thinks that her father is still her father and although she hates him she can't help Dash get him. Dash thinks Red Crow would kill her too.

He thinks how he has no idea what he's fucking doing. She thinks he'll get killed by Red Crow.  Dash thinks how she needs to get off the rez. She starts to walks away, thinking she's pregnant.   He asks her to leave the rez with him, when he is done here she should come with him, doesn't she want to get off the rez? She says she doesn't want to anymore.  He asks her to just thing about it.  She bids him goodbye thinking over and over that she's pregnant and should tell him.  She doesn't and drives off.
They can think but can't quite spit out their feelings.
Later they are both lying in their respective beds. Dash thinks he shouldn't have asked her to leave with him.  She thinks she should have told him she's pregnant.  He thinks he scared her off, she owes him nothing.  He was stupid.  She thinks it's his baby and he has a right to know. They shower and Dash thinks it's just him now.  She thinks she should have told him but didn't.  She gets dressed and smokes her cigarette then a policeman asks if she is ready?

He escorts her past pro-life protesters outside the Planned Parenthood clinic.  She goes through the proceedure, while Dash waits for Wade to come over.  After the deed has been done, Carol washes her face and looks at herself in the mirror and says, "I'm not sorry."

Time passes and Wade doesn't show up much to Dash's annoyance.   He's on his way over and a car draws up behind him and Nitz gets out asking Wade what the hell he's doing here.   He asks what the fuck Wade is doing on his rez.  Wade says it seems the rez is everyone's at the moment.  Wade is then arrested when he refuses to get in the car voluntarily and Nitz bundles him inside.
Fucking Nitz, ugh.
Wade says he's just here to see Dash.  He has nothing to do with the FBI anymore.  Nitz says he's not to go near Dash and he's getting off the fucking rez right now.  Wade realises that Dash is FBI, "tell me you didn't!  Not Dash too!   Not my son!"   Nitz doesn't responds he just keeps on driving.

At the Poor Bear's, Carol is packing up. Granny comes in and Carol says she didn't keep the baby so she thought she better move out.  She says she knows Granny didn't approve, "but it was something I had to do."  She says she wishes she had some way of paying Granny back.  Granny says maybe she can.  Because she isn't going to live forever when she dies she doesn't want the things she knows to die with her.   She wants Carol to learn them, and she is welcome to keep living at the Poor Bear's as well.  She leaves Carol who sheds a tear then begins to unpack.  And we finish on the image of Dash sitting by Gina's grave deep in thought.
Carol is finally where she belongs.
This is a very emotionally draining arc.  Abortion is a tricky subject and this story goes to great lengths to show it's a decision that no woman makes lightly. I'm a big fan of Granny Poor Bear and I like how even though Carol doesn't keep the baby in the end, she is non-judgemental and sees in Carol the potential to learn the old ways and has taken her on as an apprentice.  There's real warm heartedness in how Carol gets through kicking her habit in the company of a family that just accepts her immediately as one of their own.  And to contrast with the more brutal way Red Crow has Dash work through his habit as well as showing us he does have a measure of fatherly concern for him much to Shunka's disgust.  It's good to see that Dash has suffered nightmares and guilt ridden waking moments reliving his murder of Diesel which shows he's not a total psychopath.  The meeting between him and Carol in the snow is deeply sad as both obviously still care a great deal for each other but know it's better for them to stay apart.  Carol has learned that the rez is her home now after her symbolic "death" immolating her house and all the misery that went on in there.  Finally we meet Wade as he is today, and it's interesting how although he's been out of Dash life since Dash was tiny, he still has the measure of him.  Dash is already showing signs of caring about his mother more than he'd care to admit and tentatively trusting his father is another step along his road to making peace with his past.  Of course Nitz is there to ruin that, as Wade is horrified by the realisation he and Dash had more in common than even he thought.  So as usual fantastic writing from Jason Aaron and stunning artwork from R.M.Guera. Join me in a few days time for the next book, "You Gotta Sin To Get Saved".  Cheerio!


  1. Yey, my evening reading sorted.

    In the interim, this popped up on the Mammoth Discord thing and might be of interest


  2. Yeah. I knew off most of the things in that Doctor Nerdlove article. :/

    I did a "which comic book creators to avoid" (because harasser, thinks nazis are cool, etc.) list once. It became depressingly long and I had to deleted it for my own peace of mind. Assholes, assholes everywhere.

  3. And it came from Twitter:


  4. That was an interesting article Alan, and like Malitia I was pretty familiar with what it was talking about. When I was doing DMZ I knew Brian Wood is something of a creeper, but I have to take the "Lovecraft Position" now and concentrate on the art, not the person.

    @Malitia: Heh, that amused me.

  5. Yey, finally got to read. I'll have more thoughts after I've had some sleep. But really enjoyed this. It's the character studies again. Granny came into her own a bit here. Previously I'd seen her more as a secondary character, but she gets to take centre stage a bit. Interesting about Gina and Carole's pasts (think you've done the swapping thing btw) they are curious almost parallel lives. Wade seems very likeable here.

    The withdrawal and abortion threads were well done. Personally I'm for free terminations on demand up until the age they learn to behave in restaurants; but obviously there are genuine issues. I'll put some thoughts together.

  6. Ah hell I do proof read honest. I seem to be having a real brain fry mixing up Gina and Carol. Anyway 'tis corrected, thanks for pointing it out :)

    Wade does come across as very likeable and I know Gina kicked him out because he was a drug user who did them in front of Dash, but he comes across quite remorseful of what could have been between them. And then fuckin' Nitz happens when it looks like a real reconcilation might occur. Grrr.

  7. Off topic!

    And I'm now mourning yet another* Groot title (I Am Groot). T.T

    At least I'm reasonably sure that this was meant (even if not marketed) to be a mini. It was the best horror title in the Marvel catalogue in quite some time (runs circles around the latest Man-Thing by R L Stine at the very least), while technically not even being a horror comic (more sci-fi "Alice in Wonderland" type thing). I'm sad.

    * I liked the previous one too, but that was more of a comedy... I mean it had a high-tech robot from the 90s, who loaded his rarely used subroutines from floppy disks. :3

  8. That sounds like a title I need to grab the trade of. Groot is adorable.

  9. This was the current series (why yes, that's the same writer as Gwenpool's):


    And this was the previous title:


  10. Nice. At this rate there is going to be a tonne of Marvel stuff on my blog next year!

  11. I'm glad I could be in any way a help.

    When I tried to get back into Marvel comics I came across so many unhelpful people, for some reason mostly on the X-Men side, it's quite damning if a con impulse buy* turns out to be more helpful than most "fans".

    * First trade of Loki: Agent of Asgard (Trust Me!). "So the universe wants to tell me it's time to finally get into Thor?" (I planed to do that since the 80s but lacked access. ^^;)

  12. It was also an Al Ewing book, who is...

    1) still one of my favorite writers. I like his style, this might be totally subjective.
    2) best crossover / tie-in writer I've ever known. (Can write them while giving enough info to not be impenetrable for people not reading the event. That's a rare but much needed skill in shared universe superhero comics.)
    2) living avatar of the Marvel wiki, so quite set on "editor's note"/"you could also read - page" everything.

    I came to the conclusion that even the weakest Marvel works of Al Ewing are very good "you could/should start here" recommendations thanks to 3) and even 2). Standalone periphery books like the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, or AUs like Spider-Gwen are relatively new reader friendly too but give much fewer points to branch out.

  13. ...

    I might be a fangirl. ^^;

  14. Nothing wrong with being a fangirl. I am a blatant fangirl of Garth Ennis's work, as anyone who checks the author tags has probably noticed (co-incidentally writing up another of his books either for next month or the month after as we speak). I haven't read any of Al Ewing's Marvel work but I have read some of his 2000AD stuff including one covered on the blog, "Trifecta". He's a good writer I definitely agree there.

  15. I'm currently praying for someone throwing a Deadpool mini (there is always at least one of these going on) in Ewing's general direction. As Ewing (from the Deadpool guest starring stuff I read) understands the character quite well, and that seems to be a stepping stone towards being a "Big Name Writer(tm)". :D