Bendis and Maleev’s Scarlet is about a young woman, named Scarlet Rue, who sees her boyfriend murdered by a corrupt cop, and is herself shot by that cop. She gets out of the hospital intent on revenge. She’s going to take down the cop who murdered her boyfriend and the system that rewards cops for being corrupt. She’s not a masked vigilante, she lets the police and the public know who she is and why she’s killing cops. She becomes a rallying point for people tired of being brutalized by bad cops. It’s basically #BlackLivesMatter, but Scarlet and her boyfriend are white, so everyone cares.
Anyone can be a victim of police brutality, but POC are more likely to be targets, and less likely to receive redress. Institutional racism is real. It was odd reading Scarlet in 2017. There is a scene where a flash mob gathered to rally in support of Scarlet. First, that’s not how flash mobs work, and yes they did need a permit for that gathering. Second, in 2017, seeing a black woman with a microphone calling a young white vigilante her sister feels icky. Black women have been at the forefront protesting police brutality. In the past few years we’ve seen mothers, wives and girlfriends carrying the torch for their murdered sons and daughters, husbands and boyfriends. It feels like Bendis and Maleev have appropriated the pain of black women to give validity to their white heroine.
Scarlet has some interesting aspects. The art is phenomenal. Scarlet breaks the 4th wall to talk to the reader. The reader becomes complicit in her revenge. I think, though, that if you want to read a revenge against the police story, you would be better off reading Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman, and Afua Richardson’s Genius.