Review: ‘Scout, Vol. 2’ by Timothy Truman
Scout, Volume Two
By Timothy Truman
Dynamite Entertainment, July 2008, $19.95
This, as you might have guessed from the title of the book, is the second collection of Tim Truman’s [[[Scout]]] series, originally published over twenty-four issues starting in 1987 from Eclipse Comics. (You young ‘uns won’t know from Eclipse, but they were one of the major “indy” comics companies, back before anybody used that term.) The first Scout collection came out last year, and I reviewed it then.
To recap: Scout is set in a world of the worst fears of mid-‘80s liberals: global warming ran riot, turning most of the US into a desert; the US government collapsed into corporate fascism; the US economy basically dried up and blew away; and everything generally went to hell. It also went to hell really, really quickly, since Scout starts in 1999, only twelve years after it was originally published. By the beginning of this volume – the eighth issue and the start of a new plotline – it’s possibly a year later than that, but everything is still horrible, and getting even worse. (It’s one of those post-apocalypse settings in which regular people, like you and me, seem to have all died off quietly, without even leaving rotting corpses or giant piles of bones behind, so that the tough survivalist types can battle it out over the scarce resources left.)
But Scout’s world is different from our own in other ways: it’s not really a science-fictional world, despite being set in the near future. Various kinds of magic and mysticism really do work, and our hero, former Army Ranger Emanuel Santana, is explicitly on a mission to destroy a series of legendary monsters that are behind the USA’s troubles. (The first storyline was called “[[[The Four Monsters]]];” in that, he tracked down and killed four monsters from Apache mythology, all masquerading as powerful humans. At the beginning of this volume, his spirit guide – a talking prairie dog called Gahn – leads Santana to the next monster, which is a part of him.)
The first volume of Scout collected what was essentially one story, but, from this point, Scout was more unified. There is one plot strand of this volume that gets tied up in the middle – a blind messiah named Doody, with strange powers of his own, takes over the half-mothballed NORAD headquarters as part of a deeper game controlled by the evil Vice President. (Remember when we thought the idea of an evil Vice President was the kind of funny thing you’d see in a comic book?) Otherwise, the series was about Santana’s journey to cleanse his own soul and that of the land, and about the parallel journey of new President Laura Carver to get effective, honest control of the country.
Scout hadn’t been an villain-of-the-month comic to begin with; Truman clearly had a plan for the series – a plan which included three follow-up series, only one of which he managed to get to – and that plan had a larger scope. This collection is the middle of the story, which means it functions like the second volume of a trilogy: things become more complicated and unpleasant, particularly for Santana.
By the end of this volume, Doody is out of the story, and his spooky, unexplained powers gone with him. But a much more dangerous man – with the unfortunate pulp-novel name “[[[Monday the Eliminator]]]” has taken his place. Monday has his own spooky, unexplained powers, and much less compunction about using them than Doody did. Volume Two starts at something like a beginning, but it doesn’t really have an ending, just a point at which the story is going to move on in a new direction. That’s fine with me, as long as it means that Volume Three will be along quickly to finish off this great adventure series from the ’80s.
Andrew Wheeler has been a publishing professional for nearly twenty years, with a long stint as a Senior Editor at the Science Fiction Book Club and a current position at John Wiley & Sons. He’s been reading comics for longer than he cares to mention, and maintains a personal, mostly book-oriented blog at antickmusings.blogspot.com.
Publishers who would like their books to be reviewed at ComicMix should contact ComicMix through the usual channels or email Andrew Wheeler directly at acwheele (at) optonline (dot) net.