RandoMonday: Scarlet #1

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Scarlet #1 created by Brian Michael Bendis (writer) and Alex Maleev (artist), Chris Eliopoulos (letters/production), Tim Daniel (design), C.B. Cebulski (editing), and Alex Maleev (cover)

This had such promise. It was billed (as I recall) as an in your face, timely commentary on society, particularly through the lens of the title character who, after seeing her boyfriend murdered and herself nearly killed by corrupt policemen, she’s declares war on them and starts a starts a revolution in Portland, OR. The first few pages show us Scarlet, who is murdering a corrupt cop, and then proceeds to address us, the reader–as Bendis put it in an interview, “the fourth wall won’t just be broken to engage the reader–it’ll be smashed” (one thing to note is that when Scarlet addresses the reader, her word balloons turn into rectangles). On the last page, Scarlet is telling us that we are going to help her stop all of the bad shit in the world. I don’t know that Bendis’ promise was quite met, but it was interesting to be addressed by the characters (Scarlet wasn’t the only one, as I recall). Notice I’m saying “recall” a lot. That’s not just because my memory isn’t all that great. Part of the problem here is that Scarlet‘s publishing schedule went pear shaped after issue five. It would be nearly two years before we saw issue six, and then another four months for issue seven–and that was over a year ago. More issues are on the way, supposedly (issue #8 is scheduled to release in November 2014). So, while the story started off fairly strong, my interest waned. Upon the release of issue seven, I believe I tweeted something to the effect of “does anyone still care?”

A big part of the draw to this series for me was the team of Bendis and Maleev, having just enjoyed the hell out of their Daredevil run. I think I enjoyed Maleev’s work on this title the most, brief as its been. I just dug the muddiness of the colors and the frenetic line work, which would change to varying degrees depending on the tone of the scene.

I do wonder, and this is why I’m still sticking with this title despite the publishing schedule, if the ambition of the series will play out in a satisfying way. The obvious narrative dichotomy is that Scarlet ends up dead (a martyr) or she achieves some sort of moral victory (or possibly both–a trichotomy?). But will Bendis/Maleev take these obvious paths?

Pull List Review

First Half of July, 2013

I review the following comics:

  • Batgirl #22
  • Five Color Comics
  • Batman/Superman #2
  • Red Sonja #1
  • Scarlet #7

Thanks for watching!

Pull List Review (3/30/11 Comics)

Incognito: Bad Influences #5: Sad that this limited series is over, but it also wasn’t as good as the first volume, but that just may be because I was so wowed by volume 1. I love this concept and the Sean Phillips art is perfect for the tone of this story and character. I guess what I was reacting to in volume 2 was that it’s a middle story. It’s still a good story, mind, but where it ends up–Wait. I got it. It ends with the protagonist in a bad spot, and I wanted him in a better place by story’s end. Of course, that runs counter to the noir aspect of Incognito, so it’s working just fine, thank you. :) Of course, I’m looking forward to the next story of Incognito.

Scarlet #5: Once again, Bendis pulls me back into caring about this girl and her story. Every issue since #2 has been, for me, do I really want to read this book? It’s an interesting concept, and visually cool (but I love Alex Maleev’s art anyway), but I was afraid the consequences of what Scarlet did when she shot several police officers was going to be a little too nonexistent, or comic booky, to be believed, but Bendis has deftly pulled it off so far. I loved the panel where Scarlet tells us she needs to go outside and address her followers, but she just sits there for a few moments because she knows everything will change once she does that. Also, and I don’t know yet if this is a good or bad thing for this comic, I really like the female detective in the story, probably more so than the title character.

Teen Titans #93: I recently quipped, “So is Solstice this Teen Titans’ Danny Chase?” Another person suggested she was more comparable to Kole. Of course, I was joking (was I?), because so far, this new character is likable and perhaps interesting (it’s too soon to tell), but this comic isn’t. I had high hopes that when J. T. Krul and Nicola Scott came on board that my once favorite superhero book would find itself again. That hasn’t been the case so far for me. The only interesting thing in this issue was the way that Raven considered Solstice and how the new girl affected Trigon’s daughter.

Wonder Woman #609: As I tweeted recently, this is the best story of the “Odyssey” storyline so far. I know many out there are thinking, “yeah, but the best is still pretty stinky…”. I enjoyed the portrayal of Dr. Psycho as Diana’s guide, and how Diana, perhaps for the first time in this storyline (my memory is short, however), rose above her angry, “I’m a warrior” attitude to achieve something. Plus, I love the cover with all of the Diana’s of the past battling each other. Have I mentioned how good the Don Kramer pencils are? There some really lovely shots of Diana in this issue. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Zatanna #11: Hmm, I love the Adam Hughes cover. As far as the content, just go read The Comics Rogue’s review of this issue–it says everything I want to say about #11 and then some.

Pull List Review (1/19/11 Comics)

Brightest Day #18: Most of this is, again, one long battle scene featuring the Hawks, but the battle does end and they are rewarded with togetherness. For about two minutes. Deadman shows up as an agent of the White Light, and when that entity speaks to the Hawks, telling them they have to be apart to be stronger together, what do you think Carter says? After the big F U moment, the issue ends on a WTF moment: both Hawks turned to dust! Whuh?! This is almost starting to be torture porn, what DC is putting these characters through. I know that conflict is essential to good drama, but give them a little slack, why don’t you?

Buffy, Season 8 #40: Sigh…. The last issue for this season of Buffy. Isn’t that an awesome Jo Chen cover (on the right, but both, really)? She deserves many, many awards. And take a look at how down Buffy is compared to issue one’s cover, on the left. In issue 1, the world was wide open with possibility and Buffy had a confidence that she rarely possessed during the run of the show. But after a season–40 issues–Buffy has lost two of the three men in her life, taken away everything that meant anything to her best friend, and still has to pick up the pieces of everyone’s lives (well, mostly).

There were some great little moments in this issue that made it feel like a “season finale”. There was a quick flashback scene where they show Giles (well, his coffin anyway) being lowered into his grave, and then forward a bit with the reading of Giles’s will where he left the majority of his estate to Faith. The panel showing Buffy’s reddened eyes from all the crying and the surprise and hurt–I’ve never been a big fan of Georges Jeanty’s art on this series (he’s ok), but he nailed that bag of emotions very well (credit also should go to Andy Owens’s inking). Later still, Faith gives Buffy the one thing that Giles left Buffy: that book Vampyr that we saw in the pilot. As Faith tells Buffy, “You know what it says? It says you’re the Slayer.”  Thank you, Joss. Emotional full circle achieved, buddy. We also see Faith offering to care for the broken Angel, telling Buffy she’s all about forgiveness, which is another great callback to the Angel series where he saved Faith’s soul. Spike stops by for his usual “fuck them, you’re the Slayer” pep talk and warns Buffy about someone who’s gunning for her (hello, Season 9 setup). Finally, after a little fight with some pissed off Potential Slayers (are they still Potentials anymore after what happened in #39?), Buffy hears a girl screaming, about to be vamp food, and she goes off with Mr. Pointy in hand, continuing to be what she’s been (more or less) for 8 seasons and to us: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.

If the series wasn’t going to continue (and yes, I will be getting Season 9), the way this issue ended would have been a nice series finale–in some ways better than the one we got on television. Also, do yourself a favor and read Joss’s afterward where he goes all mea culpa on some things, which I appreciated very much. In short, just because you have no restraints in what kind of story you can tell doesn’t mean you should go off into the weeds. I hope Season 9 will be a little more tightly plotted and have more personal attention paid by Joss, but I’m looking forward to it just the same. Long live Buffy!

JLA #53: Yawn. What? Oh, something happened in this issue? Hmm, Mark Bagley’s last issue as penciller. No, wait, that isn’t it. Oh, yes. Batman always has a plan. The good guys win. What was the point of this story arc? Here’s my problem with James Robinson: he keeps writing these characters out of established character. Donna’s trying to be this bad-ass, Batman is written like he’s an amalgamation of Dick and Bruce, Supergirl here is I don’t know what, especially the “dark” Supergirl we’ve had in this storyline, Jesse Quick left the JSA for a lame-o excuse so she could be the speedster on the team (even though Wally isn’t doing anything in the DCU), and the other two males on the team are just wasted material. The only character that I think Robinson is true to is Jade, possibly. I want to believe that things will get better, but I don’t think that’s going to happen until Robinson is off the book.

LSH #9: Here’s another yawner. That decompressed style of storytelling that Paul Levitz employed 20 years ago on his previous Legion run isn’t working for me in this series. Or maybe that the story itself isn’t as engaging. Or maybe that there aren’t enough subplots going on to make the less engaging stuff tolerable. Anyway, I do like what Levitz is doing with Tyroc. The way that the sonic powered hero is shown using his powers is interesting and unique. I just wish the book as a whole was that way.

Scarlet #4: Ok, good. I was afraid that things would go to an uninteresting place after last issue. But I should trust Bendis a little more–he’s earned it (but I’m still so pissed about the whole Spider-Woman thing–I know, I need to let that go). Brandon isn’t some cypher sidekick just going along with Scarlet–he calls her on some bullshit and questions her about her goals. What I’m not clear on yet is why Brandon will continue to help Scarlet. Also this issue, we are introduced to an interesting new character, Detective Angela Going. She’s no longer on the Scarlet case, but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of her. Too, there’s Special Agent Nathan Daemonakos, who is now heading up the case since Scarlet is now #9 on the FBI’s most-wanted list. You know, if having Scarlet’s boyfriend get murdered in front of her, as well as being shot herself, wasn’t bad enough, Bendis has her mother find her, slap her, and tell her what a shitty daughter she is. This poor girl can’t catch a break! The issue ends on an interesting note: she shows up at the flashmob that’s gathered in her name, with all the cops and Feds watching. Issue #5 should be very interesting.