Friday, July 9, 2010

Scarlet #1

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Alex Maleev

It's funny how comics have trained some long-time readers to expect certain things.  I never bothered to read any solicitations or the usual internet-hype 'news articles' about this title.  I saw that it was by Bendis and Maleev, and that it was creator-owned, and that's more than enough to guarantee that I will buy it through the first five or six issues.  Looking at the art that I saw, I sort of assumed that they were doing a Typhoid Mary kind of book (that would be awesome), and figured it would read a lot like Alias.

I was pretty much wrong on most counts, as Bendis is doing something a little different from his usual type of crime comic.  Scarlet is a young girl of college age, who is pissed off at the world.  We don't know the whole story yet, but we do know that she was wronged by a corrupt and drug-addicted police officer in a major way, and that she seems to be fighting back.  The book opens with her killing a man, who we later learn is a police officer, although not a good one.

Recognizing that the reader would have a lot of questions with an opening like that, Scarlet starts speaking directly to her audience, in a fourth-wall breaking technique rarely seen since John Byrne's run on She-Hulk.  Scarlet starts to bring us up to speed in a hurry, using three pages of nine-panel grid to share most of her firsts with us.

The writing is not typical Bendis, in that there is very little dialogue; the space is instead given over to Scarlet's monologue, which is kept separate from her speech by the type of word bubble used, and the placement of her gaze, which is usually aimed directly at the reader.

It doesn't need to be said that Maleev's work is gorgeous - this is exactly what one would expect from him.  While this issue is mostly set-up, it's definitely got my interest.  Great stuff.

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