Review – Scarlet #4 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics (Jinxworld Imprint)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artwork: Alex Maleev
Release Date: 28th November 2018

Having missed the original arc of Scarlet I wasn’t sure what to expect with this, but being assured that it was a fine place to jump on, and given that I’ve enjoyed a lot of Bendis’ previous work, I thought… why not? Well, to be blunt this hasn’t exactly been my cup of tea at all but as a limited run I’ve stuck with it to see where it goes.

Issue four opens with dialogue between the eponymous Scarlet and Troy, the special forces soldier who dropped in last issue. Following the events of the arc so far, our lead has decided that the only course left open to prevent further harm to those around her is to surrender.

We then move from the imagery of Scarlet quite literally standing over the bound soldier to what should be an emotional section of sharing and openness between the residents on equal terms. There’s a lot of wordless panels here and Maleev does some fine work, but the overall effect fell flat for me. What should be a pause to allow those raw feelings to shine through failed to capture the requisite emotion, mainly because I’ve not had time to build any connection with the characters.

There has clearly been a lot of thought put into the structure and message that this story is trying to tell, but for me at least, its meandering and failed to click. From this exchange the issue builds to a showdown with the colonel across the water and an ending that, whilst generally kind of expected, doesn’t play out in the way you’d think.

As I mentioned above, the art for me is the real saving grace of this series. The posing and emotional expression of the characters is great and the bleak, ruined cityscape evokes a washed out despair befitting the setting. The splash of the surrender on the bridge, with the choice of perspective emphasising the scale of the situation here is a stand out in this run.

The overall concept sounds good and similar stories have played out well in the past so I had high hopes, but this really hasn’t been the hard-hitting storytelling I was expecting. The conversational flow is missing, with great chunks of text being delivered as almost rambling monologue, and I feel that on the whole this series has been quite drawn out and laboured.

The argument can be made that we’re looking at someone thrust into the limelight and seeing the outcome of those choices through their own eyes, but it’s a tough sell when the character themselves isn’t particular engaging. The suspension of disbelief takes quite a pounding throughout and, despite claims that this isn’t a political piece, there’s a real lack of clarity in the delivery.

Rating: 2/5.


The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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