I had wondered as to what had caused the delay of this comic series that it took writer Brian Michael Bendis and illustrator Alex Maleev a year to follow up on Scarlet # 5 and finally release the sixth issue a week or so ago. Bendis opens up at “agitrop” after the comic, and it made perfect sense. With all that had happened recently in the country with the “Occupy” movement and it seemed as if the world itself had gone off the rails, Bendis elaborates that the book had become a little uncomfortable to write since they had thought that they were futurists and that they were imagining how the world would be 10 years from when they wrote the series. Just how would one feel if suddenly what they were writing became a little too close to real world events?
Bendis states that he became conflicted and maybe even a little creeped out. He wrote the opening sequence to Scarlet # 6 close to one of those “Occupy Movements” in Portland that made a lot of noise in the media. It gave him more references, and it was something that never happened to him when he penned “The Avengers” comic book series.
Be that as it may, this sixth issue made a reference as to where Scarlet had been after the events of issue # 5. It made strong references to the “Occupy movement” and comes out swinging.
“Where have I Been? I’ve been planning. Where have you been? Oh, that’s right…you’ve been occupying.”
“Nobody learned a lesson. Nobody paid a price for their greed and corruption. Wall Street is still wall street. Corruption is still corrupt. The Big money people who you were railing against own the airwaves that you were using to rail. They put you on their air and they laughed at you. I’m saying: you tried it your way. Now I’m going to try mine.”
This sixth issue begins with Scarlet in a discussion with a mayor who is just another swarmy politician. It then goes back to the events of several days before where she enlists the aid of former decorated cop and two of her friends. Scarlet takes over a TV station to send an invite to another ‘gathering’ and the war is finally on.
This issue may feel as if nothing much happens and it serves merely to be a piece to set up a much more relevant chapter in the saga of Scarlet. It does somewhat abandon the ‘breaking’ of the fourth wall save for when Scarlet talks in front of a TV camera and on the first panel of the comic book. This issue feels more like a cinematic piece rather than something that wants to make a statement to its reader. Don’t get me wrong, it still does, but it feels a little more subtle than what we’ve read in the first 5 issues.
Brian Michael Bendis takes the series into different gears. Yes, it is all about corruption and greed, but this time it feels more like a struggle to win public opinion and make Scarlet’s war against corruption heard. Such a war is difficult to wage, and it is definitely a set up for something much bigger. The dialogue in the story was strong and definitely that could still provoke a thought. It is a little lighter in character development, and serves as a pitch for our familiar characters. We do get to know more about Isis and her origins. This issue has racial overtones as it addresses certain injustices done by crooked cops. It also has a message of atonement in the case of a former cop.
The writing by Bendis remained strong, and the illustrations by Maleev felt as gritty and edgy as ever. My one gripe with this issue is that besides the interview and facts at the end of the comic panels, it feels as if it was a little too short as it was the calm before the storm. It would’ve read better in a collected trade, but hey, I am not complaining much. “Scarlet” remains in my monthly ‘pull list’ in my nearest comic store. I am glad she is back.
Story: [4 Out of 5 Stars] Art: [5 out of 5 Stars]
Scarlet issues One, Two, Three, Four and Five reviews are also here. Click on links to access reviews.