Scarlet, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev
Genre: Crime, Corruption
Publisher: Marvel: (July 2011)
Author Info: www.jinxworld.com
Artist Info: www.maleev.com
Wendy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars
A good cover can be all it takes to draw me in. This past month, that’s happened twice for me, first with A Voice in the Dark, Volume 1, and then with Scarlet, both of which feature young female pro/antagonists who demand you turn the pages to learn what lies beyond the cover.
Scarlet surprised me because I’m usually not taken in by the violent bad girl image. Still, Alex Maleev’s gritty style–hard lines contrasted with the muted colours and Scarlet’s vibrant hair, lured me in.
Her very first act when you open the book is Scarlet murdering a police officer. Her role seems pretty straight forward, but wait! You have to stop and listen to why she’s doing what she’s doing.
Because that’s exactly what Scarlet asks you to do.
The majority of the story is not merely told by Scarlet in first person, but it’s told by Scarlet to you, the reader. As she explains her purpose–to expose the kind of dirty cops who abuse their position to harm innocents–she demands that you listen. And though she doesn’t expect you to take up her torch and act as she does, she warns that simply turning away makes you no better.
This style of storytelling treads the dangerous line of becoming too preachy, but Bendis carefully balances Scarlet’s conviction with reality, more so when he later introduces Detective Going. Going was a cop who survived Scarlet’s second act of vengeance, prompting Going to demand to be put on the case. Going has her own ideals, which she too shares with the reader, but she isn’t simply a cop who has it out for the terrorist kid.
As Scarlet’s message gets out into the community, the tension rises as the authorities determine what to do, and Scarlet has to decide how far she’s willing to go and how many lives she’s willing to risk.
I have heard good things about Bendis’ work on mainstream comics such as Daredevil and Ultimate Spiderman, but having little interest in those characters, I haven’t made much effort to read them. Now that I know what kind of work he can do with a character like Scarlet, I’m much more inclined to check them out.