As the saying goes, ideas can come from the least likely of places. Just ask Jason Aaron, who traces his breakout DC creator-owned series Scalped to abandoned plans to reboot an obscure western hero published by the company back in the '70s.
As he revealed during his spotlight panel at Thought Bubble in 2023, Aaron’s acclaimed modern noir Scalped was originally intended as a reboot of the DC character Scalphunter.
Created by Joe Orlando and Sergio Aragones, Scalphunter debuted in 1977’s Weird Western Tales #39, published in 1977, and remained as the lead character in the series through its cancelation with 1980’s 70th issue. His backstory was impressively simple: the son of long-standing DC western hero Matt Savage, Scalphunter was raised by Native Americans after being kidnapped as a child, he grew up to be a crimefighter alongside the likes of Bat Last, Jonah Hex, and other DC western characters. Beyond his initial appearances, the character would appear in both The Kents, a 1997 historical drama about Superman’s adopted family, as well as issues of James Robinson’s critically acclaimed superhero series, Starman.
Aaron didn’t give any additional details about Scalped’s original form during his panel appearance, but admitted that it wasn’t a series that came into focus quickly for him, saying that he was initially unsure about whether or not it worked. It was the second arc of the series, which focused more heavily on character over plot, that reassured him of the longterm viability of the title.
Looking back he admitted to the crowd, “I'm really proud of that book, I think it's how I learned to write comics.”
Scalped can be enjoyed in a series of collected editions.
Scalped wasn’t Aaron’s only modern classic that started as a potential reboot; read about The Other Side’s roots in The Nam right here.