Scarlet #2

by on Sep.03, 2010, under Comics

I haven’t reviewed many second issues. Possibly none in the year-plus I’ve been writing comic reviews. I keep buying the series whose #1’s I like, but there doesn’t seem much point in writing about them.

In this case, though, I want to take another opportunity to urge those of you within the sound of my metaphorical voice to start buying Scarlet. As I described in my review of #1, the main character Scarlet is a young woman undergoing a moral origin story, on the path to becoming a revolutionary. For that alone you should get the book. How many pop culture products out there are willing to say straight out that our society is rotten and in need of a revolution? Not some sci-fi society used as an allegory of ours. Ours.

But #2 also begins to showcase something that has always been a great strength of Brian Michael Bendis’s other series Powers: the page layouts. Brian Avon Oeming realized Bendis’s script directions for those layouts very differently from the way Alex Maleev does it here, of course, but the spark of originality feels the same.

Scarlet’s weeks of staking out the crooked cop who ruined her life are shown in a two-page spread of wide panels just big enough for the car rear-view mirror in which she watches him. When an ex-officer has to make a long speech to her, Maleev breaks a single large image of him into three different-sized panels to avoid an overwhelming block of text. To show time passing in her recovery from a gunshot to the head, we get a two-page spread of square panels, all with Scarlet addressing the reader in the same pose, against a succession of different backgrounds, as her shaved hair gradually grows back and lengthens to her shoulders.

I am a little worried that Scarlet will end up like James Lee, because her complaint against the world is so broad: there’s evil in it and no one cares. A “revolutionary” who thinks like that could well end up just being an insane person. I hope that’s not where Bendis is going. Until then, anyway, I’m 100% on board.

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