Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Letterer: Joshua Reed
Publisher: DC Comics
Review by Greg Brothers
To say it was a shock last year when it was announced that Brian Michael Bendis was jumping over to DC would be an understatement. After the initial shock wore off, the big question was what would become of Bendis’s non-MCU work. Eventually it was announced that some of his older series and several new books would become part of a Jinxworld imprint at DC. Last week Pearl #1 launched this new line with a brand-new series. This week saw a new volume of Scarlet launch at Bendis’ new employer.
Full disclosure: I did not read the original series that lasted nearly four years over at Marvel. However, as you will see, that had little effect on my feelings about Scarlet #1.
Scarlet #1 reintroduces us to a dystopian future in which the oppressed have revolted against the government. Scarlet in many ways is responsible for the world that exists now. It was when her boyfriend was killed by a corrupt police force and she began broadcasting everything wrong with the city that things turned ugly. Now the city is divided both physically and politically.
Scarlet #1 starts strong. The dialogue is kept to a minimum, while Maleev’s art ups the intensity with a sniper picking off several people. The is one panel in particular where you get just the glint of a reflection off the sniper’s scope that provides more emotion than any dialogue throughout Scarlet #1.Unfortunately, Maleev’s art was not the focal point for storytelling throughout. Instead, after the threat has been averted, the title character Scarlet is given a monologue that becomes really exposition heavy. I understand why Bendis felt it was needed, as I am sure he wanted to make sure the readers did not feel lost.
However, all it did was slow the pace of the story down to the point where it became boring and over-inflated. Having not read the original series, I do not know how many of the characters we see are returning and how many are new. That being said, none of the characters stood out to the point that I cared about what happened to them. In many ways, the writing tells me I shouldn’t care about them, which is highlighted by the fact that when one of their members takes a bullet to the head no one seems to be shaken up by it.
As I said, Maleev’s art is what makes Scarlet #1 at all bearable. The grittiness is a reminder of the type of setting these characters are in. The coloring through most of the issue is muted and simple. Again, for me, it works. Within the panels nothing stands out, but nothing is done that makes it hard to follow the story either.
Verdict: Skip It.
Unless you were a hardcore fan of the original series, then Scarlet #1 is a solid skip. While the story is an easy jumping on point, there is nothing within the story that makes you want to jump on. Instead, we are greeted with bland characters, in a bland dystopian setting.