Saturday, December 3, 2016

101. "Scarlet: Book 1" by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev

Bendis, Brian Michael & Maleev, Alex. Scarlet: Book 1. New York: Marvel World Wide Inc, 2011.

176 pages

Reviewed by J. d'Artagnan Love

SYNOPSIS: Scarlet Rue is devastated when her boyfriend is murdered by a corrupt cop. Following his death, she begins a new life with the purpose of eliminating corruption from the criminal justice system.

WHAT I LOVED: I loved how uncomfortable this book made me. The story is so incredibly relevant. With tension between police and civilians in our country at an all time high, the murder of police officers hit home recently when two Des Moines officers were ambushed and killed. Scarlet is written in such a way that you feel you should be rooting for Scarlet--she's the hero of the comic, right? In reality, rooting for Scarlet will leave you with a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. I honestly did not know who to root for, but I knew I couldn't back Scarlet or her tactics. Scarlet is an anti-hero but there is also no hero to be found in the story, at least not yet. The story offers peeks of hope but overall, it is dark, complicated, and a bit sickening. It's powerful, and good literature is supposed to be.

WHAT I LIKED: I liked how relevant it was. I feel a bit disturbed giving this story a high star rating. I thought to myself, "If I like this book, will people think I condone murdering cops? What if I end up on a list at homeland security?" The fact that I even have these thoughts means that there is important work being done here. It is a commentary much larger than a comic's usual "good versus evil" motif. It is messy and dirty. There is hope, but you aren't totally sure where that hope is coming from.

WHAT I COULD DO WITHOUT: The incredible amount of anxiety I felt while reading it--but this has less to do with the book and more to do with the state of our social system.

RECOMMEND FOR: People who can appreciate some great art. People who enjoy literature that cuts at the heart of certain social issues. People with thick skin who won't be broken by a very difficult story.

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Anyone who has a sensitive stomach, anyone who is prone to paranoia, anyone who may be triggered by stories of police violence (both police as perpetrators and civilians perpetrating police).

5 darts out of 5

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