The comic book “Scarlet” published by Icon Comics, is not one filled with Superheroes wearing colorful spandex, but the story of a young woman whose life was destroyed by violence and corruption. Creators Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev tell the engaging story of how this young woman has chosen to fight back. This week issue # 6 of the series was released, over a year after the release of issue # 5, which should bring joy to the fans of this comic.
The story of Scarlet takes place right here in Portland, Oregon; which is also home to the book’s writer, Brian Michael Bendis. Artist Alex Maleev does a superb job of making the city of Portland come to life. Everything from Pioneer Square to the Hawthorne Bridge are so perfectly represented that the reader would think they just took a tour of downtown. The story’s main character Scarlet Rue has begun a social revolution fighting against police corruption and the abuse of power. Portland, Oregon is the perfect setting for this type of tale. As anyone who has lived here can tell you, after New York City, Portland had the most populated occupy movement, our citizens have a strong distrust of the local government and police force, with good reason, Portland has some of the highest rates of accidental shootings by police in the country. Unemployment is above the national average, and people are hurting. After having her boyfriend framed and murdered on the city streets by corrupt police officers, Scarlet has had enough. She is now fighting back with the same amount of intensity and violence that the Portland Police Department has. This story hits so close to home for Portlanders that you would think you were reading about it in the local newspaper. Scarlet is looking to motivate the people of Portland (and the world) to do more than just “occupy” city parks. She wants us to do something. She wants us to stand and fight back with her. Issue # 6 begins with a monologue by Scarlet, as written by Bendis, in which she says:
“Where have I been? I’ve been planning. Where have you been? Oh that’s right… You’ve been occupying. You’ve been screaming and yelling and carrying on. Living in tents. Jumping in front of cameras and letting the bad man have a good old piece of your mind. How did that work out for you? Now that it’s all over and done, and the dust is clear, the grass has grown back, you’re home safe and sound… I’m not being condescending. I know you meant well. I’m asking you: Did anything change? No, nothing changed. Nobody learned a lesson. Nobody paid the price for their greed and corruption. Wall Street is still Wall Street. Corruption is still corrupt. The big money people you were railing against own the airwaves that you were using to rail. They put you on the air and they laughed at you. I’m saying: you tried your way. Now I’m going to try mine.”
The issue then goes forth telling the next chapter (and plan) of Scarlet Rue. If one didn’t know any better, after reading Scarlet’s words and actions in this issue, they could assume she was the Occupy Movement’s real life leader. The issue’s dialogue speaks to so many issues facing not just Portland but the entire country today. Which is one of the reasons this is such a great comic. But unlike the real world, Scarlet is not going to let the corrupt win. She is willing to commit murder, and give up her own life to accomplish this goal. This issue introduces a powerful new character by the name of Isis; who has suffered by the hands of Police corruption just as Scarlet has, and has a big presence in issue six, perhaps there is more to her than Bendis is letting on.
Readers who spent time on the Waterfront during the Occupy Portland Movement, should have an insane amount of appreciation for this issue. The scenes that take place in Waterfront Park recreates the images of that time clearly and vividly, thanks to Maleev’s detailed pencils. Considering this story started being published in 2010, one might think that Bendis and Maleev are true futurist that are predicting social turmoil before it starts. Perhaps it’s true when Bendis says in the book’s letter pages that something from above (perhaps Xenu) was wanting him to finish this comic. In the same letters page Bendis also promises that readers will not have to wait another year before issue # 7 hits the stands.
Scarlet # 6 is on sale now at your local comic book store, or on the Comixology App on Apple and Android devices.
Don’t have issues 1-5? Buy the first Scarlet Graphic Novel which collects them all at your local comic book store!
In Portland? Buy your comics at Floating World Comics located at 400 NW Couch Street Portland, OR 97209 (503) 241-0227
Live in the boonies? That’s ok, the Comixology App has issues 1-5 too!