REVIEW: Scarlet #1 By Brian Michael Bendis And Alex Maleev

News, Reviews

Scarlet #1

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by Alex Maleev

So this is their new project? Interesting. I mean, after two and half years of hype I have to admit I was expecting them to still be doing Spider-Woman, but instead we get….Scarlet. Scarlet is an Icon title, not unlike Kick-Ass or Nemesis, and what that means is that there is no Marvel universe, there are no censors, and there are no restrictions. This means that the language is crude, the subject matter is adult, and Bendis gets to have non-all-ages fun. So is it fun?

Scarlet is the main character, as well as the title, and while we are treated to her origin, the spoiler free version would be that a bad situation turned her life upside down, and while she’s anti-establishment, she is justified in it. She’s an anarchist in her own way, I mean, I can’t think of a better word since the issue opens up with her killing a cop and taking his cash. Not because it’s a mugging, but because he’s a cop. She’s got a problem with cops, and in a very untypical Bendis manner, he actually lets you know exactly why in the first issue. I know, amazing, right? Bendis actually gives you substance in the first issue rather then making you come back looking for it later.

Tonally the book really does take me back to Alias and Daredevil, and from what others have told me, it makes me wish I’d read some of his pre-Marvel work. It’s dark and gritty and noir, not Marvel Noir, but noir. Or at least it felt like it, then again, Maleev is one of the most perfect artists to do noir so I might just be labeling it. It’s a street level book, and unless Scarlet has superpowers that we weren’t made aware of yet, then the most powered thing about her is her badassness.

And how about Alex Maleev? This book is gorgeous, just like his Daredevil. His style suits the tone of the book perfectly, which is obvious intentioned going in, but it just makes it that much better. Everything about this book looks amazing, and it’s great to see him doing his thing again. Not to knock on Spider-Woman, but for all of the hype the book never really lived up to its potential with the writing or the art. And I won’t lie, the first time I saw Scarlet in the book I thought I was seeing Typhoid Mary, which is not a horrible thing by any stretch of the imagination.

Oh, and another interesting thing about the book would have to be that Scarlet breaks the fourth wall quite a bit. She has two kinds of word bubbles, the usual balloon when she talks in the book, and then the boxes when she talks to the audience. And I don’t mean narrative boxes, I mean imagine your typical word balloon with edges and direction coming from her, and she speaks in fourth wall. It’s a pretty cool method of handling the audience and exposition.

This is a hard book to really talk about without giving too much away, but what it all boils down to is the question on everybody’s minds…..”Does the book live up to the high quality set by other Bendis/Maleev team ups?”

Yes, yes it does.



A lifelong reader and self proclaimed continuity guru, Grey is the Editor in Chief of Comics Nexus. Known for his love of Booster Gold, Spider-Girl (the real one), Stephanie Brown, and The Boys. Don't miss The Gold Standard.