Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Alex Maleev
Scarlet is as mad as hell, and she’s not going to take this anymore in this Bendis-Maleev creator-owned endeavor.
Scarlet has opened her eyes. She sees the scum and filth of the Earth. Corruption in the police, crime committed out in the open, people generally being dicks. Yet no one does anything… until she does.
Scarlet (probably has something to do with her red hair) is a young woman with a fairly normal life until an incredibly crappy event forces her to realize that the world is broken with corruption, greed and apathy. So she just goes to town beating the crap out of people she comes across not being particularly nice to their fellow man.
The first striking thing about the story is Scarlet talking to the audience. With rectangular dialog bubbles, Scarlet looks straight out of the panel and converses with you, the reader. All while the actual story goes on at the same time. Think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Here, it’s a well-used technique to help the reader identify with the character and hear her story straight from herself. That’s an important aspect for such a character-centric book. Especially when the character starts out killing a cop. Kind of good to get her side of the story.
Throw in a neat montage to help show off Scarlet’s average life, and you can see Bendis playing around with his storytelling techniques. And it’s paying off with a refreshing and entertaining read.
Beyond the creative storytelling though, this issue looks like The Punisher as a cute redhead. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s not anything particularly new or worthwhile enough to dedicate to a hold box. Bendis promises the title will enlarge with scope as Scarlet creates a sort of domino-effect movement that expands to a federal and even global level. However, that isn’t too apparent from this first issue. Hopefully signs of that growth will occur soon. With Bendis pulling out some techniques out of his hat, this is a fun book to read, but those tricks won’t hold up for long if the story doesn’t progress beyond simple street-level vigilantism.
I like how Bendis tells the story, but the story itself needs a bit more development.
Alex Maleev rejoins Bendis and brings his high-quality art from Daredevil and Spider-Woman. His gritty, lifelike detailing conveys the dark reality Scarlett is dealing with. The expressions are full of emotions that vary widely with even subtle changes in similar panels. Everyone looks like regular people, even down to the baggy clothes Scarlet and her fellow inner-city college friends wear. This is the kind of realism I think Maleev does best in, free from the impossibly spectacular heroics in typical Marvel comics.
The coloring does a good job separating the past and present, with the present scenes in a mostly blue tint, and past in yellow. The one main constant is Scarlet’s vividly red hair. The coloring in general is a great match for the art, together making a great fit for the story.
In addition to the comic itself, the back of the book contains a few extras. Bendis introduces contact info (including an old school AOL email address), an interview he did with IGN, alternate covers and even some scripting with art. It also has a relatively cheap price (this Icon Comics title is a whole four cents cheaper than Marvel’s main $3.99 price point) while still keeping the ads few. It’s a good read and a good start. Let’s hope it keeps building up.
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10