on 4 March 2012
A corrupt cop kills a teen boy over drugs the boy didn't have. The boy's girlfriend is also hit but survives. This is her story.
"Scarlet" is a very timely story of a general malaise in most peoples' outlooks on life. They look around and see corruption in institutions which were once sacred, and the apathy that allows this way of life to continue. Recently this took the form of the Occupy movements but in this book writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev take things further with Scarlet picking up a gun and starting a revolution that will kill the bad guys and show that good people will not take it anymore.
That said, don't look at the cover and think you know this book. Yes it's sexy and eye-catching but it's not a one note comic book of a chick with a gun, there is that, but Scarlet as a character is much more interesting than that. Like Rob Gordon in High Fidelity, Scarlet addresses you, the reader, as she explains her worldview, how she came to these conclusions, and asks you to follow her on her journey to change the world. She's not got super powers or martial arts training, or anything really, she's a kid with a mission who wants to make the world better by stamping out evil - a hero rather than a super one.
Also it's not pro-anarchy or anti-establishment, rather it's a nuanced look at a complex problem with lots of action thrown in. It's a comic book with brains and heart, the best kind of comic book in fact, that deserves a crossover audience made up of people who read books and shy away from comics, because "Scarlet" is comics at their best.
I remember picking this up last night thinking I'd read one or two issues before bed and I wound up reading the whole thing in one go, coming to the end with a screeching halt wishing there was more. And there will be, Book 2 is out soon, and I will be there. For fans of comics who enjoy something more than just fighting or sci-fi and want to read something current and clever and exciting, this book is a must-read.
on 28 June 2012
I have reviewed works by Maleev and Bendis before and am yet to be disappointed by their team ups. Scarlet is their latest collaboration, published under Marvel's Icon imprint but far removed from the company's trademark superheroism. Let it be said that I'm a huge superhero enthusiast, but on this instance it was a welcome change to appreciate the gripping storytelling of the creative team but set in an entirely different arena.
Set in the real world, (as in there is no mention of super-anything), Scarlet is an incredibly resolved young woman bent on overthrowing the corrupt authorities that she has personally been wronged by. By breaking the fourth wall and using flashbacks to establish the sequence of events that hardened her, Scarlet grips hold of you, the reader; regularly stating that "You" are joining her in her revolution. Escalating quickly, you honestly have no idea how the story will turn; there is no doubt that she will succeed in some capacity, but will she survive the endeavour? Should she?
Artistically, Maleev delivers the best work I've seen since his run on Spider Woman, his depiction of Scarlet often alternating between gun-wielding femme fatale and a damaged, vulnerable teenager. A nice touch is that her youth is accurately captured, there is a visible differences between her and Maleev's other redheads Black Widow and Scarlet Witch but still with his iconic beautiful grit. The door is left wide open for a sequel and I sincerely hope it comes.
I whole-heartedly recommend Scarlet to anyone who enjoys comics with a strong female protagonist, anyone who has encountered Bendis and Maleev before and anyone who wants to break away from mainstream comics. Go for it.