Comic Publishers

July 14, 2010

Marvel/Icon Reviews: Scarlet #1

Publisher: Marvel/Icon
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Cover: Alex Maleev

“Scarlet”: I didn’t know what to really expect from Scarlet, since I picked it up solely based on the reputations of Brain Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. The only thing I did know was that the team that impressed me on Daredevil years ago were attempting to do it again, but with their own creation. And all I had to go on was the picture of  a pissed off red head with two guns pointed at whoever was lucky enough to pick up this issue and give it a chance.

Scarlet is more of a reality based tale set in Portland, Oregon, which means no super ninja types or giant robots smashing through the city, and the only scum and villainy she’ll be up against are the types that we’ll likely hear about on the late night news. Though you may want to associate her with the types of people she deals with, I’ll ask you as she does in the beginning of the book to not judge her too quickly and to hear her out. Which may be a bit difficult at first, since on the first page we see her murdering a guy in an alley. She does take the time to explain her story to you, the reader, as Bendis allows her to kick down the fourth wall and basically have a conversation with us for the majority of this issue.

We go for a walk in Scarlet’s world, and then we finally come to the moment where things went from very routine and pretty normal, to out of control in her life. The change comes at the hands of some guy who didn’t like himself, achieved a position of power, abused said power, and then ended up killing Scarlet’s boyfriend and put a bullet in her head. To add insult to injury, the boyfriend’s reputation was smeared and dragged through the mud as Scarlet laid in the hospital recovering. So she asks questions, not of anyone in particular, but the questions a person would ask when terrible things happen and there is no “why.”  So after coming to a certain revelation, she has decided to do something about it, and she lets the reader know that they’re going to help her do it.

I’ve liked some of Bendis’s body of work for Marvel, but there’s always something different put into a creator owned project that you can tell comes from a different place in the writer when you read the finished product. Having Scarlet interact with the reader was a great touch, and Bendis gives her a distinct voice that doesn’t come off as forced. Yeah, she’s a vigilante and we’ve seen those characters before, however, she’s not running around Portland blowing up gangsters in huge offices, there’s no military background or secret spy training. Just a young girl pushed to the breaking point because society and life has kicked her in the ass one time too many. This is a pretty thorough origin issue as well, even with the few quick glimpses into her past we get the essential meat of the story that helps to move it along with great pacing.

There was a love/hate thing going on with Maleev’s work and my opinion of it years ago, but as time went on I came to appreciate his style and what he was doing. I will say that in this issue of Scarletis some of his better work that I’ve seen, and he really compliments Bendis’s script. The sequence to the right of this paragraph along with the double page spread at the end of the book are a couple of my favorites. And for anyone who hasn’t noticed already, that bright red hair of hers stands out in every panel that she’s in, and anything else that’s red as well. Much like with the Daredevil issues, for those that picked up the title during their run.

Scarlet impressed with this issue, and most of it was just simple down to Earth story telling that did the trick. I’m not sure how long the series will run, and even Bendis has stated that he actually doesn’t know how many issues it’s going to take for Scarlet to come to a conclusion, but as long as the writing and art are this good, I’m along for the ride, and you should give it a try as well.

For more Scarlet click here!

Infinite Speech



  1. Eli

    I passed on this when I first saw it, but I don’t know, maybe I’ll give it a shot now that I know a little bit about it. I have liked Bendis’ work in the past, and, being in Portland, maybe we’ll get to see her takin’ it to some hippies. Hah!

  2. Billy

    I can’t buy this book for one reason…Spider-Woman!!!

  3. Infinite Speech

    What is it with you and hippies Eli? lol

    And Billy I don’t think Spider-Woman would mind if you picked up Scarlet, if I’m not mistaken she’s not even real! lol

  4. Billy, if we get this out of the loss of the spider-woman series, I am all down for that. Scarlet was amazing,

  5. […] being thoroughly impressed with Bendis’s first issue of Scarlet, I had very high expectations of this story. This issue does a great job of keeping the […]

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