Review: SCARLET VOL. 1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Colors: Joshua Reed
Design: Curtis King Jr.
Reviewed by: Brad Filicky
After a tragedy turns millennial Scarlet Rue from insecure woman to revolutionary warrior she must deal with the consequences of lighting the match that starts a revolution. After two previous volumes Brian Michael Bendis brings his creation back to DC to continue a tale that only gets more timely by the day. It’s been a while since we’ve been part of Scarlet’s journey. She never intended to be the focal point a revolution. She’s torn between her quest for justice, which includes the responsibility to her followers and her want to slip back into the shadows.
It’s nearly impossible to see Scarlet in a non-political way. Bendis’ anger in these pages is almost tangible. And these days there are plenty of angry people in America for valid reasons. Police brutality, corporate and political corruption, income inequality… This is our reality and we all need a primal scream from time to time, and make no mistake, Bendis is screaming on this one. I’d say this is one of the most effective and primal displays of anger I’ve read in the Trump era.
Although we may not relate to the experiences that Scarlet goes through or causes, she is complex and human enough for us to see some of ourself in her. We have all wanted revenge and have all wanted to lash out out at the system, but are willing to deal with he consequences? Scarlet wasn’t and the fragility she displays when she sees how hard it can be is what anchors the story.
Alex Maleev’s art is gritty, giving an almost documentary feel. It would not be the same story with out his style and panache.
The dialog.. I can’t talk about Bendis without mentioning how he uses dialog. The man has a gift. It’s comparable to someone like Aaron Sorkin.
The main problem for Scarlet has been it’s sporadic publication over the years. I’d recommend rereading the first two volumes to get you caught up before you dive in on this volume.
The ending does lose some of the intimacy the series had, but none of it’s intensity so the payoff feels earned but just a little hollow.
And back to that dialog again… I know it drives some of you crazy.. this book won’t be any different.
Bendis and Maleev’s rage against the machine packs more of a punch, even with and ending that feels slightly empty. It’s a modern parable that is fine putting it’s hands around the throat of modern problems while fantasizing how to solve them. Scarlett is the anti hero we want and the one we want to be in these troubled times.
It’s a killer combo of art and writing. A timely tale with teeth.