Monday, September 6, 2010

Scarlet #2 Review

I was completely enamoured with the debut issue of Scarlet. It hit plenty of the right notes for me and for a comic I wasn’t sure I would like I was left jonesing for the second issue to hit the stands, two months later. Now it’s here and I read it and while it might not have been exactly as great as the start this second part to the revolution of Scarlet is still pretty damn interesting.

Scarlet #2

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Alex Maleev

The first issue of Scarlet painted us a picture of who our lead was and where she’d been and so this second instalment gives us a deep look into where exactly she’s headed from here and why. Here Bendis and Maleev address exactly what everybody complained was missing from the first issue so I wonder if this was satisfy the vocal minority…probably not, but it seemed the logical step to me.

Scarlet kicks off proceedings by having a quiet chat with us, the reader. She wants to give us the story that will bring us up to speed, she wants to tell us exactly what a girl does after her lover is killed and she’s just survived being shot in the head. She wants to explain exact how you go from being that victim to deciding to become the bully.

Through some simple reconnaissance and internet searching, Scarlet is able to track down the partner of the cop who shot her. It seems all too simple but not as easy as getting him to completely spill his guts. This scene gives us plenty of information but it seems too easy. Scarlet doesn’t truly earn anything she comes across and I don’t know why this guy gives it to her. He has quit the force in disgust at the corruption and knows the police obviously don’t trust him but he doesn’t see her as a potential trap or threat, he just breaks it all down for her. It might be a mild complaint but it did feel too easy.

Armed with knowledge, Scarlet then shows us how she goes about knocking the first block over that obviously starts her revolution against the world and how it’s run. Scarlet takes her passion and her anger to the source and it’s this sequence that ends the comic. It must be said that Bendis paces this sequences of Scarlet confronting her demon exceptionally well, whereas plenty of other pages, and double splashes, in the book feel like filler. Scarlet and her previous assailant with a badge have some great dialogue and the tension mounts like steam in a shower until someone has to finally swipe the mirror and see what’s going on.

The end of the issue knows how to perfectly slap the reader in the face so that we have to come back in 60 days and read on. There is no way I could pull out of the tale now. I’m intrigued and invested and I want to see how this revolution works for Scarlet. It’s a cool premise, and a great end, but I feel like Bendis was working towards that end and so filled the rest of his pages just to make sure it was the end. I guess I can’t complain, this issue clocks in at about 30 pages, it’s larger than your average comic, so anything extra I get, be it stretched out sequences or wordless moments, is more than Bendis really needed to give us.

If it sounds like not a lot happens in this issue you could be forgiven for making that assumption. Scarlet chats to us quickly, then she chats to the ex-partner for 9 pages, and then she starts to exact her plan of derailing the problems of the world one scumbag at a time. The issue isn’t packed with a multitude of scenes but it still does resonate. Scarlet is asked why she doesn’t just leave and start a new life and she answer, “I did start a new life. This is it.” And that sums up the comic, this is one girl’s quest to move forward do something that she wasn’t previously ready to do. Whether it will work out the way she wants is something I’m keen to see.

Maleev’s art was good in this issue, he does draw a good comic in my eyes, but this was the first time I could understand why people don’t like his photo traced style. In a few panels it all just came off sloppy or without any artistic flair to it, just lines over a photo, but most of the issue looks very nice. He’s also really making Scarlet look like a true character, which I like. I’m also digging his white, red, and yellow panel bars and am wondering if they’ll actually mean anything in the end or if they’re just a cool way to skip some gratuitous violence.

Verdict – Check It. This comic is so very nearly worth owning, I believe, but I’d like to see Bendis continue to take a few more chances like he did in the initial issue. Here he uses some of the standard tricks we’re well used to from him, like the same panel over and over for effect, but it's tired more than it is true. The story is ramping up and I am hoping that the third issue will be a killer set piece because it kind of needs to be, all the sets have been painted, the characters explained, now we need some true action.

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Flip The Page said...

I'm loving this series, but I wish Maleev would let someone else do the colours, just to make it a bit less fumetti and a bit more visually clear

Ivan said...

I love her expression on the cover.

IronFist Fan said...

It was a good read,very interesting..Bendis let the character keep you going.I am on board for more

Michael Edwards said...

Love how the series is going so far. I think the retired cop explained it to her cut and dry because he saw the road she was heading down. And was trying to cut her off before she went to far. It felt organic. But, I do agree. Bendis needs to take more chances with the book - nothing gained from relying on old tricks.

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