Page 45 Review by Stephen
I don't think I can better the introduction I wrote to volume one, so here we go again.
Few things anger most people I know more than the abuse of power.
Racism is one of them, so South Africa under Apartheid was a double whammy, and Congressman John Lewis has some arresting history for you in MARCH when it comes to policing in America.
Because when individuals, corporations or entire state institutions abuse their power and successfully get away with it through powerful connections, political indifference, mass-media collusion or wholesale capitulation, most of us get pretty steamed.
Welcome to Scarlet's world: it's just come crashing down around her. Her boyfriend was murdered by a corrupt cop in a city of corrupt cops and so not only did he get away with it, he was commended and promoted while the newspapers which displayed zero interest in investigative journalism printed barefaced police lies.
So far Scarlet has [REDACTED] and published film footage of her doing so. She's successfully galvanised Portland's public into supporting her at a flash-mob rally into whose crowd the police threw a live grenade. But now she's really got the Mayor's attention:
"I have a list."
"I thought you might."
"At first blush, I don't think you're going to like it. Being that you and I have decidedly different world views."
"I don't think that's necessarily true, actually. We both want the world to be a better place. We both have dedicated our lives to it."
"What a smarmy politician's answer."
"Well, I am a smarmy politician."
"Can I insult you? Are you insultable?"
"I'm sensitive about my hairline.
So how did Scarlet secure that face-to-face, one-on-one meeting when she's the most wanted woman in the state?
From the writer of JESSICA JONES: ALIAS - which is cracking crime fiction - and his artist on DAREDEVIL comes something completely non-genre highly recommended to readers of CRIMINAL etc.
It's brave stuff, not just in its direct attack on police duplicity but in where Bendis is prepared to take it. When I originally read book one, I wondered whether he'd written himself into a hole he couldn't possibly climb out of, but that was pretty faithless of me given Bendis' track record. Don't expect him to back out or ease off now on the extreme actions both sides are going to take and the irreversible plight that then puts them in.
Maleev throws multiple art angles at the multiple flashbacks which depict the horrific events which tipped Scarlet's growing inner circle. The most affecting of these is Isis' appallingly brutal awakening from childhood idyll as a dutiful daughter with a doting Daddy. It's narrated with a children's picture-book clarity over three double-page spreads, illustrated by Maleev as fully painted portraits of Isis, close-up. The first, seen from above, depicts Isis delightedly holding her Daddy's hand on the way to school.
"It was her favourite time of the day."
The second is so closely framed that it almost crushes her. The third is the most successful rendition of wide-eyed, catatonic shock that I have ever seen in my life.
Maleev doesn't skimp on the rowdy crowd scenes, either, but at one key moment the sound is effectively muted as the throng disappears to be replaced by an increasingly livid, fiery red when things go spectacularly wrong.
For more, please see SCARLET VOL 1 s/c.