Scarlet #1 Review
Scarlet #1, by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev.
This feels a lot like an experiment by Bendis, and one that I think might work.
In this issue, we get to meet Scarlet, who is not really a super-heroine, but is the hero of our story. She claims to be a broken girl living in a broken world, and she’s out to change that. She’s poor, rough, and has been through more than enough stuff to make her realize that the world sucks. Bendis stayed away from cliche reasons, like abuse as a child or anything like that (actually, he does have a clever line here, about how the only thing her parents did wrong was not to tell her at age seven that the world sucked.) But whatever her reason is, Scarlet knows that the world needs changing, and she’s going to do it.
And she needs our help.
Here’s where the experiment comes in. This book is entirely structured having Scarlet talk to the reader. Directly and specifically. It’s interesting, and in some places, fairly gripping. But in other places, it falls short, and the dialog/narration is somewhat stilted. For a reader used to reading a story, and not used to having a story dictated to them, it can be somewhat of a slog to get through. There are other comics that use a similar style (I think I’m thinking of Grendel, which uses journals to do something similar) but few of them are as upfront and direct about it.
As I said, this feels a little bit like an experiment from Bendis, and I don’t think he nailed it this time. I think he might get better at it — Bendis is used to talking directly to the reader. And it could very well work out to be so rivetting to have a character speaking to me that I can’t resist. He’s not there yet, though.
Maleev’s art is typically great. The red in Scarlet’s hair contrast with the gray of the world she lives in. She’s also very realistically rendered, and doesn’t stand out as much of anything, which I believe is mostly the point.
My final quibble with this issue is how little actually happens. It’s a good set up, and it takes me about 10 pages to get used to the narration, but it would have been useful to have more actually happen during the story.
I’d recommend it if you like Bendis, otherwise, let’s see where it goes.