Monday, July 19, 2010

Fuck. I hope I'm not nuts.

I’m not a comic book geek.

Well, at least not yet.

Sure, I’ve started spending my fair share in the comic book stores. I’m growing out a collection of various graphic novels from X-men, to originals, superheroes and non superheroes. However, what I mean to say is that growing up the only “comics” I really read were Archie comics with a very small smattering of X-men here and there when I managed to find a copy.

So no, I wouldn’t classify myself as a comic book geek.
I write this to convey the fact that being so far behind in various lore, authors and artists, I’ve always managed to pick up whatever I’ve wanted in trade. So yeah, I’ve been a little spoiled. I haven’t had to wait that week/month/two months for the next issue to come out. I haven’t gone to the comic book store the day of the release to pick up the issue so I can devour it in ten minutes or less.

G recently compared issues to trade as watching a television series on tv in syndication and picking up the box set. This statement was made during a debate between the two forms: trade vs issue by issue. It’s a pain in the ass, the issues are smaller and therefore can be harder to organize and wouldn’t it be better to wait for the entire thing so it’s not so muddled and choppy? However, do you know how friggin long it’ll take to make it out to trade? Can you wait that long? Especially since most of the reviews online have nothing but good things to say.

However, I think that this series may make any issues I have worth the episodic feeling of reading issues instead of a trade paperback.

I’m surprised I haven’t mentioned him here before this, however I have this friend/mentor that I see on a bi-weekly base. Don’t worry, there’s not a whole lot of grasshoppah-ing going on, but as our conversations wind down, we do end up talking about comic books a lot (along with movies and music). Knowing that I’m huge into female protagonists S mentioned Scarlet to me, saying that there’s a lot of hype going down and it should be an interesting read. Just hearing about it made me perk up in interest, but I’d have to wait until the summer to get it.

I didn’t do a lot of research on it. I hadn’t read Bendis’ other work or seen any of Maleev’s work but nonetheless I was excited to finally, FINALLY, be on the ground floor for something. I squeeled like a fangirl upon seeing it in Golden Age’s display window.

But enough of my yabbering. This is about Scarlet, issue #1.

Scarlet opens up with a bit of a bang.

Bendis doesn’t hold back, establishing a character and her moral flexibility from panel one. Is it completely original? No, but it’s a way of incorporating a bit of action (seeing as the rest of the novel is mostly dialogue and flash backs, it’s nice to have some action grounded in the present) while also establishing our heroine in a strictly moral grey area.

This being an origin story, we don’t know much about the story line and how it will develop--but we don’t really need to know about that just yet. This is Scarlet and this is all you need to know about her. Like Scarlet herself, it’s a little bit in your face and very direct (a lot of reviews have focused on the breaking of the fourth wall and I’ll let them do that, I will say that I like the change up but am unsure how fun it’ll be by issue four). However, it all works. It does what an origin story should do: hook you and make you ask for more. It sets up enough of a reason to continue on watching Scarlet’s quest for justice and gives you a heart and soul within Scarlet’s tragic past. Sure, it’s a little wordy but when you have one character things tend to get a little monologue-y.

Having not read any of Bendis’ or Maleev’s other creations I had no idea what to expect. Thankfully, I was blown away. The art is gorgeous. Gritty and with a hand painted feel that is both very unique but also seems to fit the story just so. Normally I’m very picky about my art in comics and photo-realism doesn’t normally appeal to me. But I guess there’s a first for everything as the colours, the inking, everything made me fall in love with the art. There’s such a saturation of colour that adds just another layer to this character and her world.

However, I’d have to say that the art direction is what really hooked me. Without a doubt the thing I loved most about this first issue was the three page, nine by nine blocks detailing Scarlet’s life in a series of firsts. It was a very effective and unique way of showing a little girl grow up with each panel managing to emulate a thought, feeling and emotion despite being half the size of a regular size panel.

Like Scarlet’s life, this isn’t necessarily an unique concept. Although, as was pointed out in a recent review I read, perhaps the ‘everyman’ feel will be of a benefit. The layout of those firsts does seem to show a “hey, she’s just like you!” spin onto it.

Injustices happen all the time. This is just about a girl who’s been pushed enough to fight back. How she’s going to do that? Well, that’s not established yet. But there’s no reason to show your hand so early in the game.

Whatever uncertainty that certain clunky dialogue may have wrought, it was practically made obsolete reading the interview at the end of the issue. The fact that you can almost feel the passion Bendis has about this series, the sheer will and obvious love he has for this story is enough to get me more than a little excited for the next issue.

Is it out yet?

What about now?

Well, I will say this. The one good thing about not being a comic book geek just yet is that I can fill that wait with catching up on Bendis’ earlier work. Yeah, I already have Powers ordered from my local comic book store.

I’m catching up.

1 comment:

  1. After reading it myself, I can't say I'm quite as excited as you are. Plot-wise and character-wise, it just doesn't seem that exciting. I didn't feel that sense of allure I normally get when reading other comics such as Scott Pilgrim, The Killing Joke, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. But I guess that's a matter of personal taste.

    Your right when you said it's not original. And for me, it seems too obvious a retread. I've seen this character before, this world. It's all a bit familiar. Perhaps my slight dislike is part of being a bit turned off by a character who is seemingly naive to the world around her and from the last frame, has hatched a vendetta against the world she lives in. So the world sucks? Tough. But, that's just the jaded me speaking out I suppose.

    Though I've mentioned I'm not as interested (not to be confused with being uninterested), I would like to see how she and the story unfolds. With that being said, Scarlett seems like it has a lot of potential.

    As far as the art direction goes, I'd have to say I love it. Yes it's gritty as you've said and because of that, it makes the comic seem real. It's not the fairy world of the classic giants such as DC and Marvel universe. Take Alex Ross for example (personal favourite next to Adi Granov). It really is a stark contrast his style. Where he depicts his characters and world in seeming invincibility and glowing light. Alex Maleev on the other hand presents a world of fragile characters and harsh truths: the world sucks, people suck and no one is safe from harm.

    I call next issue once you're done.