For the fourth part of “High Lonesome,” Jason Aaron shifts from focusing on one character to focusing one event -— or, really, two events directly linked: the killing of the two FBI agents in 1975 and the killing of Gina Bad Horse in the first year of “Scalped.” We finally learn who was at fault in each case and the answer isn’t shocking, but the results very well could be.
These two murder cases have been at the centre of the “Scalped” world since the first year with the 1975 killing of two FBI agents spurring on Agent Nitz in his quest to take down everyone involved, which brought Dash Bad Horse into the picture and we’re off and running. Then, Gina Bad Horse, Dash’s mother, was found dead in issue five, which has caused all sorts of repercussions for the reservation, most notably Chief Red Crow assigning one of the only (if not the only) honest cops to the case, Officer Falls Down.
Here, Aaron goes from character to character, beginning with Falls Down and a murder that ties back to the first issue of this arc. This murder is little more than a way for Falls Down to talk with FBI Agent Newsome and get access to the case report for the 1975 killings. Through examining them, he stumbles upon who really killed those FBI agents. Simultaneously, Lawrence Belcourt, the man convicted of those deaths, sends as message to Red Crow saying that he knows who killed Gina Bad Horse. And, finally, Aaron settles on the killer in both cases. We aren’t given a reason why he killed Gina, but the identity of the killer is interesting.
Aaron’s style throughout this is strangely relaxed despite a quicker pace to go through so many scenes. While the book jumps around more than it usually does, no scene feels rushed, each has plenty of space for the characters to be themselves. Aaron is a very economical writer, able to get across who these characters are with only a line or two. Add to that, R.M. Guéra’s superb line work fills in the rest. The way his characters move and tilt their heads, so much is communicated.
Guéra also draws scenes in a more relaxed pace, always finding room for small panels that speak volumes. Officer Falls Down’s face falling when he’s left alone with a dead body after arguing with Agent Newsome, only to clutch his hands, and drop to his knees to pray. Guéra doesn’t make these actions look forced or rushed, which is remarkable considering they happen over the course of only half a page.
A major issue in the ongoing plot of “Scalped” as not only do we know who is behind the two murder cases driving much of the story, it looks like the characters will know soon as well. Putting the cases at the centre of this issue instead of a character is a smart move on Aaron’s part, highlighting their importance and, finally, providing a few answers. Of course, these answers do raise a question: what happens next? It should be fun finding out.