Graphic noir: Scalped, Vol. 4
"[G]ood noir often has amazingly intricate twisty plots, but that's just icing on a dark, dark cake. Noir is about the characters moving through those plots, ricocheting like a banged-up pinball that only bouncesYour humble blog keeper had this to say when he set his mind to definitions (and that definition came in the introduction to an interview whose subject had yet a third definition of noir):
"Until — Game over. No match, no free play.
"And as you watch them move, you know their final destination, you recognize it ... because it feels inevitable. To me, that's the heart of what noir is, inevitability."
"For this reader, noir hits me hard in the stomach with an ending in which a protagonist goes knowingly to his or her fate. Call it resignation, even if that resignation is sometimes triumphant."Scalped occupies a thought-provoking place in such discussions. For one thing, its setting on an Indian reservation helps freshen the noir tradition by keeping it surprising and contemporary. Noir is not a style, it's a way of grim life. For another, it's a kind of group noir. Everyone is trapped or doomed, not just some hapless protagonist.
Having said that, one story in this volume, which collects issues 19 through 24 of the comic, has a prominent character take a series of unexpectedly moral actions. I'd like to say that the character turns away from the noir and toward the heroic, but I won't. Instead, I'll take the story as gratifying evidence of noir's flexibility and vitality.
(Read more about Scalped at publisher Vertigo's Web site.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2009