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Comic review: Scarlet No. 1 

Scarlet No. 1

Published by Icon (Marvel). Written by Brian Michael Bendis. Art by Alex Maleev.

The Deal: Writer Brian Michael Bendis unleashes his brand-new, creator-owned series from Marvel Comics' Icon imprint. The new comic, titled Scarlet, is (seemingly) a revenge-esque adventure starring a human woman in a real-world-ish Portland — but it may be too early to tell. One thing's for sure, the book bucks traditional storytelling techniques, breaking the "fourth wall" to speak directly to — and enlist the aid of — the readers.

The Good: Scarlet is a refreshing read. Bendis gets a lot of shit for his dialogue-heavy (some say "talking-heads") style of writing. And honestly, when he gets too chatty in the Avengers (which he also writes), it can get on my nerves. But in a book like Scarlet, his approach shines. In fact, I'd even say he seems to have scaled back a bit in this first issue; so, unlike his work in Powers, you don't see these huge, meandering word balloons falling across two-page spreads. The conversations in Scarlet look more distilled, which makes everything seem more ... normal — which is perfect for the ordinary tone of this comic. The art, by frequent Bendis collaborator Alex Maleev, is along the artist's usual photorealistic lines, but he doesn't hide behind heavy shadows (like he did in a lot of his previous stuff). Maleev's pages here are open, incredibly colorful and filled with wonderful details and atmosphere.

The Bad: Bendis has a pattern of painting his characters into corners over the course of a story line — only to have them be "saved" by some serious bits of "deus ex machina." I hope that won't be the case here. We'll see.

The Verdict: I like what I've seen so far. Buy it.

Quick Hits

• DC's The Atom one-shot special should have showed readers why the character is cool, but instead the book presented a boring story that reinforced the idea that Ray Palmer is lame. The Verdict: What a missed opportunity.

• Boom! Studio's CBGB No. 1 — inspired by the legendary rock club of the same name — could have been a cool comic about music and such, but instead it reads like a dull history comic. The Verdict: What a snoozer.

• Image Comic's Hack/Slash: My First Maniac No. 2 keeps the momentum going. I'm a new reader to the world of Hack/Slash, and I'm not at all lost. The Verdict: What fun.

Reviewed materials provided by Heroes Aren't Hard to Find: www.heroesonline.com.

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