REVIEW: ‘Scarlet’ Issue #5

So far, every issue of Scarlet has left me in high anticipation without much satisfaction. At the end of every issue, I feel hopeful that the next installment will be where the book finally makes the leap from a cool, interesting read into an extraordinary one. Unfortunately, issue 5 was not the issue to break that trend. Read on for the full review…

“For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Scarlet is a red-headed girl in her early twenties who has had some tough times. After her boyfriend was killed by a crooked cop and she, herself, was shot but amazingly survived, Scarlet has decided that she’s had enough of the corruption in the world. Even more than that, she’s decided to take action. So what does she do? She starts killing off all the corrupt cops in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. After some time, Scarlet begins attracting some fans, and, at the end of the previous issue, she’s on the brink of starting a small revolution against the police force.

Scarlet is the newest creator-owned comic by writer Brian Michael Bendis after he ruled as the king of Marvel for some length of time. His abilities as such a successful comic book writer are definitely shown off in this series. Every line of dialogue, while not containing the most insightful or pressing bits of information, is very well crafted and never seems cheesy. One aspect Bendis never quite addresses, though, is whether what Scarlet is doing is actually justifiable. As a reader, I never really know if I’m supposed to think of Scarlet as a hero and agree with her actions and opinions. Throughout the series, there are many cool scenes where Scarlet talks directly to the reader, something both original and effective, but her words are often told in such a way as if the reader is supposed to accept what she is saying. Personally, in the future, I would really like to see her come into greater conflict with the rationality of her actions. In this issue, which is the end of Book One, we finally get some inclination of her uncertainty as she tells the reader that she now has to live up to what she’s begun and to what her followers expect from her. I hope that Bendis decides to flush out this idea in the next several installments.

While I have been somewhat unsatisfied, but nevertheless intrigued, with the plot of Scarlet, the artwork by Alex Meleev is what smoothes it all over and allows me to justify spending my hard-earned cash for each issue. Meleev’s unique blend of incredibly realistic drawings with blurry textures and surreal colors is a delicious treat for the eyes. It really says something when a person who’s read a good amount of comics over the years stares bewildered at a panel wondering how the artist was able to pull it off. In the latest issue, there is one series of panels in particular involving a grenade that is visually very simple but amazing in its effectiveness.

If you’re new to Scarlet, this issue is a good place to start. Obviously, you would be missing a large portion of the story, and I recommend you read it from the beginning, but being the end of a story arc, it would give you some introduction of what is to come in the future. Above anything, if you haven’t read it yet, you need to pick up this issue just to be subjected to the masterful work that Maleev puts into each page.

At the end of the first book, I really expected more to have happened by now. In a way, I feel somewhat cheated as if Bendis has a fantastic story planned in his mind but is giving it to the readers in a very slow almost teasing manner. But then again, perhaps that is what is so intriguing about Scarlet. Perhaps, when the series is complete or at least has come to a respectable age, I will look back at the story and realize that it really was an incredibly structured plot. Whether or not that will actually be the case I do not know. All I can say for now is that I have my fingers crossed for book two.”

“SCARLET” Issue #5 Is Available NOW From Marvel Comics! (MSRP-$3.99)