Jennifer's Reviews > Scarlet, Book 1

Scarlet, Book 1 by Brian Michael Bendis
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Jul 14, 2016

it was ok
bookshelves: comics-manga-graphic-novels
Read on July 14, 2016

Eh, 2 stars but maybe bumped up to 3 for Maleev's art and Bendis's attempt at tackling moral complexity and social issues?

On one hand, I don't want to be too harsh, because I'm trying to b remind myself that every piece of art/media, especially those with female characters and/or about injustice can't be everything to everyone. And yet, this just felt like too little, too late, like it might have seemed more profound had it come out around the time of Jessica Jones and Bendis/Maleev's Daredevil. Released now, it comes off as the team not only not growing since then, when they showed readers the potential for darker, thought-provoking comics, but being slightly tone-deaf in the current sociopolitical situation of police corruption and brutality.

In some ways, I find Bendis's choices of an upper-middle class white girl to start a "revolution" and the setting of Portland, to be interesting ones. In other ways, it was just irritating. Instead of coming off as brooding and angsty, à la Frank Castle/The Punisher, Scarlet reads like a petulant child acting out because she realized the the world is unjust ("sucks") and no one is doing anything about it. In the current sociopolitical climate, I want to smack her and point out that one of the reasons why the victims of injustice don't "do anything," is because, unlike her, they didn't have the privilege of growing up believing that they were entitled to everything nice in the world, and have been dealing with injustice their entire lives in less extreme ways. That's not necessarily a reason not to endeavor to change the world for the better, but I would've enjoyed a more nuanced treatment of what it means to be complicit with injustice and corruption. It felt like a bone thrown preemptively at the criticism of Scarlet as a white girl to have a natural hair black girl speaking into the megaphone at the protest. Since this wasn't a slam dunk as far as adept portrayal of complex characters and situations, I was left wondering if Bendis built Scarlet mostly around the idea that everyone loves hot, gun-toting (where did she get her guns and learn how to snipe, anyway?) girls, especially if they're redheads. (P.S. When girls "go bad," they also decide their shirts need to frequently be midriff-bearing?)

There's potential here, to explore the intricacies of Scarlet becoming a figurehead for a social movement/revolution, including why or takes a white upper middle class face to finally galvanize the public, and what the role of violence should be. However, I don't know if Bendis is going there, or if Scarlet (the character and series) will merely continue to look great but sound mildly dissonant.

P.P.S. I'm much more interested in the stories of the FBI agent and the female detective (who is reminiscent in appearance to Maleev's Milla or Netflix's Hogarth) on the case of catching Scarlet.
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Reading Progress

07/13 marked as: to-read
07/13 marked as: toread-gntp
07/13 marked as: to-read-gn-tp
07/13 marked as: currently-reading
07/14 marked as: read

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