Publisher: DC Comics
Released: July 20th 2011/October 30th 2018
Issues: Scarlet 1-5
I received a copy of Scarlet Book One through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Scarlet is the brain-child of Brian Michael Bendis (New Avengers, Alias, Secret War, Guardians of the Galaxy) and Alex Maleev (Fables, Civil War, Daredevil, Mighty Avengers). It was originally published on its own, but DC is republishing it now after having gotten Brian Michael Bendis to start working for them – they also got him to pick up the series where he had left it off.
I’m actually really happy that DC is reprinting this volume, though I know not everyone may agree with me there. I’ve been reading the single issues of Scarlet as they come out, but I honestly had no idea that there was an entire volume out there with the backstory for me (my bad for not researching it, I know).
Scarlet Book 1 explains so many questions that I had while reading the single issues that have been coming out. So if you’re like me, and you desperately want to see how they got from point a to point b (though it’s really more of a point z, isn’t it?) then this is the graphic novel you should read next.
The back of the cover describes Scarlet as a ‘woman pushed to the edge by all that is wrong with the world’ but I actually sort of feel like that’s an understatement. I mean, it is accurate, but it doesn’t really seem to do justice to Scarlet’s pain or her mission. Perhaps that’s just me.
Scarlet went from having a decent and happy life to having all that taken away in just a moment. That’s actually not too different from a lot of origin stories for superheros, so no real shock there. Still, it seemed like what Scarlet went through was so much more human. There was no warning; no perfect responses that somehow saved the day. It just was.
That is, until Scarlet decided to do something about it. That’s really what this story is about. Scarlet, and many of the people around her, have been pushed too far, and they’re finally taking a stand against it.
This was a heavy book, to say the least. I could feel Scarlet’s loss and pain, and it made me really root for her, even when she took actions that would otherwise seem extreme. The actions of those she was opposing was not honorable, and it seemed like they were constantly upping the ante. The sad thing though? It hasn’t yet passed the point where it’s become too much for reality: it’s still believable.
I believe that one person could start a revolution. We’ve seen it happen. Likewise we’ve seen police brutality and corruption. We’ve seen the horrible and violent responses to otherwise peaceful protests. It’s happened. Maybe that’s why it hurt to see those pages?
What I really loved, more than anything else though, was the artwork. The artwork is absolutely striking. I loved how panels were reused, and the redish hue, almost like watercolors, used across so many of the pages. It made the art seem grungy…but not with dirt. I don’t think it takes a genius to put those two pieces together.
I’m so glad I read this volume. I haven’t yet seen how things get to the point shown in the latest Scarlet issues, but now I at least have a better idea of what’s going on. I also better understand the references to her boyfriend now, which was certainly the biggest take away from this.