It was my original intention to write this week’s article on my absolute hatred for what Andy Diggle is doing to Daredevil comic books. Oh baby! It was gonna be a real seether packed with incendiary accusations and righteous finger pointing. I had visions of Andy Diggle reading it, bursting into tears, and spiraling into a deep pit of self-loathing broken only by a phone-call from Marvel telling him that he’s fired and not to bother coming in to pick up his stuff because it’s already been set ablaze like the post-Brubaker Daredevil collections of so many fanboys and girls…
But I’m not gonna roll like that. Instead I’m going to talk about Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s new creator-owned series Scarlet which, after only two issues, is impressing the heck out of me.
What can I say? When Bendis is hot, he’s hot. Now, I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and say that everything the man does is greatness literarified* because it’s not. Bendis has written a lot of stuff that is frankly a chore to read. And I’ve never really understood the Comic-Con phenomenon of people lining up for hours with their short-boxes full of his books in the hopes that he’ll sign them all. (Note: He will. That’s why the line takes hours, jerks.) Regardless, no one can ever disparage the greatness of his Daredevil run. In my opinion it was the best thing to happen to comics until Nuv stopped contributing to this column a few weeks ago. And despite the fact that Spider-Woman only ran one arc, even after Marvel hyped the living bejesus out of it, it was pretty damn great too.
So what makes Scarlet such a worthy follow-up? Well, for one thing, Bendis and Maleev created the original character and managed to have it put out by Marvel’s Icon imprint. That means they’re both working on a book they’re passionate about, free from the restraints of their more mainstream work. You’ll hear a lot of smack-talk about how Bendis is trying his hand at being Mark Millar. Don’t you believe it! In just two issues I found Scarlet to be written in a fresh voice – fresh for Bendis, fresh for anyone – and I really like the way he’s written this one in a confessional-style narrative. Bendis breaks the fourth wall all over the place and I really think it works well for this kind of story.
Alex Maleev has also brought his A-game to this one. Gone are the more outrageous colours seen in Spider-Woman but so too are most of the dark, murky tones of his Daredevil run. From pencils to inks to colour choices, Maleev seems to have really found a great balance between his two former styles and the result is a comic that looks a lot cleaner somehow. Bring on the blues and the oranges and, of course, the title character’s bright red hair, I say! Looking it over again I honestly think this could be Maleev’s most pleasant looking work to date.
So what’s the story about? Well it’s about revenge so far. Whether it’ll stay as a revenge story remains to be seen (what with it only being two issues in) but when things go wrong with a crooked cop’s drug bust and you-know-who’s boyfriend gets murdered, well, let’s just say a certain redhead loses her shit Frank Castle style and things get very interesting. Sure, there are probably a million stories like this one out there, but not very many are told so compellingly. Bendis and Maleev may never return to the glory days of their Daredevil run, but I’m here to tell you that Scarlet’s Portland is every bit as compelling as Matt Murdock’s Hell’s Kitchen, and Scarlet is shaping up to be a very worthy addition to the ever expanding legacy of her creators.
* new word, you read it here first!